The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is behind us, but a new hustle and bustle is just descending upon us: H-1B filing season! Each year there is a limit of 65,000 new H-1B visas available, with an additional 20,000 for US master’s degree holders. The past several years USCIS has received thousands more petitions than they have slots available for, so USCIS has conducted a lottery of all H-1B petitions received the first five business days of filing. We anticipate that there will be a lottery again this year, so early and careful preparation is essential! The first day of filing each year is April 1, for a start date of October 1. April 1 falls on a Saturday this year, so the first day for filing will be Monday, April 3rd. Start preparing now!
- Employers, finalize your list of current and prospective employees to sponsor for the H-1B petition. Keep in mind that even if an employee is eligible for the STEM OPT extension, it is not guaranteed that the employee will be selected in the H-1B lottery the first go ‘round. Therefore you may want to consider filing now, even if they have time left on OPT.
- Make sure that the position for the H-1B petition(s) is a specialty occupation. In general, this means that the position is one that requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a specific field of study.
- Plan how you will document the specialty occupation work that is available for the employee you are sponsoring. If the employee will work in your office, be ready to provide documentation that your company is a viable business entity. If the H-1B beneficiary will work on an in-house project, such as in the IT consulting industry, be sure to have ample documentation of the project he or she will work on. Likewise, if the employee will be placed at a third-party client site, be sure you can present documentation of the employee-employer relationship.
- If your company has not filed H-1B petitions before, you must have the company’s FEIN verified by the Department of Labor before beginning the process. Our office can facilitate that verification.
- Prepare early! By submitting all required documents and checklists early to the immigration attorney preparing your case, you allow ample time for careful and detailed preparation of the case, meaning you submit the strongest case possible. Because of the high demand for H-1Bs, our office often establishes a cut-off date for new cases, often as early as the beginning of March.
- File on time and sleep well, knowing you timely submitted a well-documented, well-prepared case.
Do you need help with the H-1B filing process, or other employment-based or family-based immigration matter? Contact our office at 804-396-3412 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help you streamline the process.