With 2017 finally upon us, now is as good a time as any for employers to begin planning for the incoming cap of H-1B visas for the 2018 Fiscal Year, which officially begins on October 1 this year. The H-1B is a major visa category in U.S. immigration policy that allows highly skilled foreign professionals to enter the United States for employment purposes.
Not surprisingly, the number of H-1B visa applications has been on a steady rise. In 2015, around 36 percent of H-1B petitions were chosen in the lottery. That same year, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received close to 233,000 H-1B applications. The following year, this increased to 236,000 petitions. And employers can expect this upward trend to continue, which is why immigration authorities are recommending that they file their petitions as early as possible, beginning on April 3, 2017.
Under existing immigration law, only 65,000 new H-1B petitions are approved during each fiscal year. An additional 20,000 petitions are open to immigrant applicants with advanced degrees from an educational institution in the United States.
Petition Steps for Different Employee Types
Because of the continually increasing demand for H-1B petitions, USCIS is encouraging employers to assess their employee populations as early as possible to ensure that they can submit their petitions at the earliest possible date. Below are 3 employee types to review when preparing your H-1B petitions.
- Students on F Visas
F-1 students working for you under Optional Practical Training (OPT) are advised to be prioritized when filling an H-1B petition on April 3. If you fail to file H-1Bs for these workers, they will automatically lose their employment authorization once their OPT ends. Of course, students still have the option of extending their OPT, albeit in limited circumstances.
- L-1B Visa Holders
L-1B visa holders have been the subject of intense scrutiny in reason years. The L-1B visa is open to intracompany transferees relocated to the United States to work in a specialized occupation after being employed by the company abroad for at least a year under a managerial or a specialized knowledge position.
Due to the stringent interpretation of the qualifications for specialized knowledge, many L-1B petitions have been denied. As a result, many L-1B visa holders are transitioning to H-1Bs instead.
- Certain Green Card Applicants
A number of green card applicants may run out of time in the United States unless they petition for H-1B status. It’s highly recommended that employers seek the advice of an immigration lawyer in these cases.
For legal advice and assistance on how to petition for H-1B in the state of Texas, schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm today. Contact our offices at (512) 215.5225 to speak with an immigration law attorney.