Once again it is H-1B filing season, and, once again USCIS is likely to receive the full allocation of visa petitions in the first week of filing commencing April 1. Once the quota is reached, new H-1B visa requests will not be accepted until April 1, 2015, for work that commences on October 1, 2015 — more than 18 months from now!
Visas for professional specialty workers (H-1Bs) are, as they have been, capped at 65,000 per fiscal year. Another 20,000 visas are available to workers with advanced degrees (master’s or higher) obtained at U.S. institutions of higher education. Of the total 85,000 H-1B visas available, some 6,800 visas are set aside for nationals of Chile and Singapore under special rules.
While some H-1B petitions can be filed at any time because they are exempt from the numerical cap, the vast majority of H-1B applicants in business are subject to the cap. Thus, employers should immediately identify first-time H-1B employees and begin preparing necessary petitions for the April 1 filing date. Employers and their employees should take time now to collect academic and work-experience documentation; secure translations and educational evaluations, where appropriate; organize wage and compensation data; and prepare detailed job descriptions.
Finally, now is also a good time for employers to review their company’s H-1B public access files to ensure that files are complete and in full compliance, as well as to determine that valid employer-employee relationships have been maintained.