H-1B Cap FY2015: Prepare for a Visa Shortage!

While much of the country braces for a huge snow storm, now is also the time for employers to finalize their hiring and H-1B sponsorship plans, and for employees who need H-1B sponsorship to finalize their plans and start preparing the H-1B filings. There is an annual cap or limit of 65,000 H-1B petitions, and an additional 20,000 H-1B petitions for U.S. master’s degree holders. The first day we can file the H-1B petition is April 1, for a start date of October 1. We predict that the H-1B quota will be met within the first few days of filing again this year, requiring an H-1B lottery.

Why Start So Soon?

  1. There will be a rush of folks applying for the H-1B slots this year. Last year, the cap was met within the first five days of filing, and there was a lottery for both the U.S. master’s degree cap and the “regular” H-1B cap. We expect the same this year. That means that to ensure a chance at the lottery, you must file the petition within the first five business days of filing, starting April 1.
  2. Filing the H-1B visa is not a matter of just filling in a form and sending it by FedEx. Rather, there is a series of critical steps, all of which take time to prepare. For example, the Labor Condition Application must be filed with the Department of Labor, and must be certified before the petition is filed. The LCA can take up to seven business days to be certified. Further, in certain instances the employer’s FEIN must be verified before we can file the LCA (or the LCA may be denied, causing further delay). The FEIN verification process can also take a few business days. All of these processes may become slower due to high volume, or due to unforeseen technical problems with the Department of Labor portal. Starting early helps ensure that a delay is not fatal to the petition process.
  3. Other documents must also be draft and collected. For example, if the beneficiary (employee) is placed at a third-party worksite, the employer must provide copies of contracts, work orders, and end client letters to confirm the placement and the employee-employer relationship. We have found that it usually takes clients a few days, sometimes longer, to obtain this documentation.
  4. Quality assurance: one check made out incorrectly, for example, can cause the petition to be returned without being included in the lottery. By preparing the file ahead of time, you allow time for a multi-level quality assurance review process to correct these simple but fatal errors.

Do you need assistance structuring a streamlined H-1B sponsorship program? Need assistance with a filing? Please contact our offices for more information about how we can help! info@sumnerimmigration.com or 804-396-3412. We look forward to hearing from you!

For more information on the H-1B classification, please click here.