Plan Ahead for H1-B Visas
The H-1B filing season usually begins on April 1 of each year. If you use workers who need H-1B visas, you should begin planning now for the 2014 filing season.
There is a statutory cap on the number of H1-B visas that are granted. Currently, the cap on H1-B visas is 65,000 with an additional 20,000 allowed for persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption.
Last year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hit the statutory H-1B cap for fiscal year (FY) 2014 within the first week of the filing period, which closed on April 5, 2013.
USCIS received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 7, 2013, USCIS used a computerized “lottery” to randomly select a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the caps.
H1-B visas are used for foreign professional workers typically in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical experience in specialized fields, such as science, engineering or computer programming.
Clearly, there are more petitions than there are available visas. Employers are advised to plan ahead and be ready to file their H-1B petition immediately when the filing season opens.