Employers Should Start Preparing for H-1B Visa Season

As April steadily approaches, so does the opportunity for foreign workers in specialized fields to obtain an H-1B visa subject to the annual cap. Under the program, U.S. businesses are able to hire temporary workers for positions that require knowledge or expertise in certain fields, such as engineers, scientists, or computer programmers.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions for the 2015 fiscal year that are subject to the cap on April 1st, 2014. Under the current regulations, there are 65,000 H-1B visas available, as well as an additional 20,000 for foreign nationals that have graduated from a U.S. college or university with a master’s degree or higher. According to the USCIS website, the statutory limit was reached within the first 5 days of the filing period last year, and received a total of 124,000 H1-B petitions. It is important to note that not all H-1B visa petitions are subject to the statutory cap, including:

  • H-1B renewal petitions
  • H-1B extension petitions
  • If the employer is a college or university
  • If the employer is a nonprofit research organization
  • H-1B transfer petitions

Because of the competition involved with obtaining an H-1B visa, it is advisable for employers and employees to start preparing the H-1B cap season now. While USCIS will not accept H-1B petitions that are subject to the cap until April 1st, those seeking H-1B visas can begin to gather information and prepare the necessary paperwork. One of the more time-intensive pieces of documentation that is required with an H-1B petition is the Labor Condition Application (LCA). The LCA is a document filed the Employment and Training Administration (a division of the Department of Labor) in which a prospective employer of a foreign worker attests the conditions of employment. The LCA must be certified by the Department of Labor, and the USCIS website specifically alerts H-1B petitions to account for LCA processing times and to plan accordingly.

The H-1B petition process can be complicated and extremely time-sensitive. As a result, it is advisable for people considering filing an H-1B petition to discuss their circumstances with an attorney who thoroughly understands the process. By engaging the assistance of an attorney early in the process, you can avoid any potential pitfalls and make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Attorney Shannon Blanchard is an experienced immigration attorney who has helped hundreds of clients with their immigration matters. To schedule a free consultation with Ms. Blanchard, please call our office today at (858) 480-1077.

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