It is that time of the year again, the time to start working on the H-1B petitions. The H-1B visa is probably the most common work visa for someone who has at least a Bachelor’s degree (or a combination of some university study and professional experience) coming to the United States to work in a professional position that requires at least a Bachelor’s degree. The visa is under a quota of 65,000 for the regular category and another 20,000 for those who obtained a Master’s degree or higher from a US university. Petitions are filed against the annual quota on April 1st for positions that can only start on October 1st. The start date is tied to the new federal government fiscal year when the quota is actually released. In 2013 twice as many petitions were filed as the quota, thus only approximately 50% of the petitions were approved. The USCIS accepted petitions the first week of April and then used a computer generated lottery to make the selection of who was eligible to obtain a visa under the quota (although the petitions also had to be approved separately). In 2011 and 2012, the quota was open for several months. Normally, the demand for foreign professional employees and H-1B visas is tied to the availability of positions which is conditioned on the state of the US economy. The H-B visa can be renewed up to six years, and can be transferred to other US employers.
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