Most H-1B status applications must be filed by April 1, 2016, and now is the time to start preparing the necessary forms and documentation. H-1B is a temporary status for foreign nationals in “Specialty Occupations,” meaning jobs that require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. H-1Bs are highly coveted because the cap of 65,000 visas available per year (there are an additional 20,000 visas for those with U.S. Masters degrees) has been reached every year for the past several years. If you are not prepared to file April 1, you may not have the opportunity to apply for another full year. For many entry-level workers in particular, this may be the best option for remaining in the U.S.
Due to the large number of applicants in the past few years, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has accepted applications for one week starting April 1, and then held a lottery to determine which applications will be processed.
Many prospective H-1B beneficiaries are students with F-1 visas who have received Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) after completing their degrees. Even if your OPT has just started, you may want to apply this year to increase your chances of obtaining a visa.
H-1Bs must be filed by and paid for by the employer. Some employers do not have experience with helping foreign national workers obtain or maintain their status in the U.S. Employers and prospective H-1B beneficiaries alike should seek legal advice early to avoid missing the April 1 deadline, review potential alternative options, and avoid paying fees to expedite the preparation of the petition with the law firm. Immigration firms are extremely busy from February through April 1 finalizing H-1B petitions and may charge extra if you wait too long to get started.
Please contact our office as soon as possible for a consultation if you’d like to know whether the H-1B visa is right for your employee, prospective employee, or you as a foreign national wanting to remain in the U.S.