H-1B Cap Season is Getting Closer
By: Texas Board Certified Immigration Attorney, Ruby L. Powers
February 17, 2017
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions on April 1, 2017.
The H-1B visa is a work visa that is awarded on a lottery basis. This visa program allows American companies and qualifying organizations to employ foreign workers to fill specialty occupations temporarily.
H-1B visas are capped per fiscal year at 65,000 for persons who hold a bachelor’s degree plus 20,000 for persons who hold a U.S. earned advanced degree (a master’s degree, professional degree, or a PhD). There are a total of 85,000 visas available each year for persons who are being sponsored for new employment in H-1B status. The annual H-1B numerical quota (or commonly referred to as cap) is expected to be reached in the first week of April. Therefore, the earlier you begin to prepare, the better.
In order to qualify for an H-1B visa:
- a foreign worker must possess both a theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge;
- an employer-employee relationship must exist. Only a U.S. employer can petition the entry of a foreign employee by filing USCIS Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker. An employer-employee relationship exists if the U.S. employer has the right to hire, pay, fire, supervise or control the work of the employee;
- the foreign worker must possess a bachelor’s degree, its foreign equivalent, or relevant work experience. If the foreign worker does not have formal education, but has at least 12 years of relevant work experience related to the specialty occupation, they may still qualify for an H-1B visa;
- the foreign worker must be employed in a specialty occupation related to their field of study. A specialty occupation is an occupation that requires a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent;
- the foreign worker must be paid at least the prevailing wage for the specialty occupation in the area of intended employment;
To increase the chances that your H-1B petition will be filed correctly and on time to be included in the cap, the Labor Condition Applications (“LCA”) should be submitted to the Department of Labor by the beginning of March, and petitions should be ready for filing on or before April 1, 2017. However, now is the time to begin preparing for the application process.
Preparing your application can take time because of the letters from employers you will need to submit to the Department of Labor, so early preparation is essential.
If you are interested in filing an H-1B petition for an employee, or would like additional information, please contact one of our experienced immigration attorneys at (713) 589-2085.
Source used: USCIS- The H-1B Program