H-1B petitions for FY 2020 will start being accepted on April 1, 2019. So, if you are an employer who is considering hiring a foreign national, now is the time to prepare the visa application.

H-1B is the visa status for foreign temporary professional workers filling specialty occupations, which are those that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in a field directly relevant to the job. However, the number of H-1B visas issued every year to for-profit businesses is limited – only 65,000 H-1B visas are available each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 set aside for graduates of U.S. master’s or higher degree programs (totaling 85,000 H-1B visas available).

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is required to start accepting cap-subject H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2020 (October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020) on April 1, 2019. As in past years, we expect that the demand for these coveted H-1B visas will outweigh the number available. When USCIS receives more cap-subject H-1B petitions than the annual fiscal year limitation, USCIS conducts a computer-generated random lottery selection process to determine which of the petitions filed within the first seven days of April are selected for processing. If a petition is selected, it will be assigned a receipt number, and USCIS will move forward with adjudication (approval, denial, request for evidence, etc.).

If a petition is not selected, it will receive a rejection notice and all filing fee checks will be returned. If you anticipate hiring foreign workers in a specialty occupation, now is the time to start the visa application process to ensure that your petition is ready to be filed as of April 1, 2019.