Thursday, February 18, 2016
H-1B Season Is Here – Prepare Your Petitions Now To Meet Impending Deadline
The old saying “you snooze, you lose” applies to companies seeking to hire temporary foreign workers in specialty occupations such as engineering, biotech, business specialties, medicine and health. If your company is planning or even considering these types of hires in 2016, and you have not already started the visa application process, you need to begin preparing your applications for H-1B work visas now. On April 1, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will begin accepting applications for H-1B work visas for temporary employment that will start on October 1, 2016. In recent past years, the cap on available visas has been reached within the first week of April.
The issuance of H-1B visas is subject to an annual cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year (with a total of 6,800 visas set aside for citizens from Singapore and Chile as part of the free trade agreement), with an additional 20,000 made available for workers with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. Last year, the USCIS received nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions by April 7, 2015 – clearly more than the number of available visas. While the process has not changed significantly, the H-1B visa petition application fee has been increased by $4,000 this fiscal year for employers that have 50 or more employees in the United States and 50% of their employees are non-immigrants.
We urge employers to act as soon as possible in order to meet the impending deadline. The employer must first obtain a Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor (“DOL”) before filing the H-1B petition to ensure fair pay for the H-1B worker. The Labor Condition Application approval process can take up to ten days and may delay an employer’s H-1B filing eligibility with the USCIS if not initiated promptly. Given the increasing demand for H-1B visas, the looming April 1 filing date and the logistical issues involving the DOL, there is no time for delay.
Members of Maynard’s Immigration Practice Group welcome your questions about H-1B visa preparation and filing or any other aspect of immigration law. For more information, please contact Stephen Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org, Joey Chbeir at email@example.com or Sujin Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a more detailed description of services offered by Maynard’s Immigration Practice Group, please click here.