On April 1st, 2015, the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting applications for H-1B Visas. That doesn’t mean, though, you should wait and apply later. Jump at every chance to prepare and prep so you have every opportunity to to address any issues that may come up. That way you have plenty of time to solve the problems before the official window opens.

Previous H-1B Visa Seasons

The 2014 H-1B quota was reached after only a few short days after opening. In fact, it was only open for the five day minimum filing period as required by cap season regulations. If it happens that there are more available spots after those initial five days have passed, the filing period will be extended until each one is filled.

Approximately 172,000 H-1B petitions were received by the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS) in that time, a great deal more than were received in FY 14, which totaled to about 125,000. The computer generated lottery drew 65,000 of those petitions to fill the 2014-1015 quota

Error-free petitions have equal chance.

There are those who believe that if they turn in their petitions on the first day the filing period opened, they would have a greater chance of being selected and that is not true, as the process demonstrates. All petitions taken between April 1-7 have an equal chance of being chosen in the lottery. Though, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proactive in filing as soon as possible.

How many petitions is the quota?

The maximum amount of petitions that the USCIS accepts for a year offering temporary eligibility to work in the U.S. in a professional specialty occupation is what’s measured as the H1B quota cap count. Those occupations include pharmacists, engineers, accountants, financial analysts, and a list of other specialty fields. In order to be eligible, the worker and their U.S. employer must stick closely to the USCIS H1B Visa position and education requirements.

Here’s the numbers…

65,000 petitions were selected randomly from all of the ones received for 2014 to fill the quota cap count. The exact numbers are as follows: 65,000 for regular H1B Quota, and 20,000 for the H1B Masters Degree quota (limited only to U.S. degrees). From those totals, only 6,000 are set aside for citizens of Chile and Singapore to fulfill the free trade agreement.

It’s important to remember that changes can and do happen as immigration reform evolves. You should stay current with all the H1B Visa 2015 news and coverage.

Planning Process for the 2016 H1B Lottery.

The first thing you should always do is contact and immigration attorney for filing an H-1B Visa in 2015 to ensure an error-free filing.s

F1 Visas for Students in the U.S.

If this sounds like you, then you need to stat preparing for an internship or optional practical training (opt) employment as soon as possible with an H1B sponsor for FY 2016. Since finding an appropriate sponsor takes time, you may consider looking through a nationwide database with the goal in mind to get several offers from companies. Then you will have the room to negotiate before choosing which is right for you.

L-1 Visa or other Visa Statuses.

If you’re currently visiting the United States on a different visa status, but are planning to petition for the H1B FY 2016, then you must begin planning around December of 2015 at the latest. You will need plenty of time to gather all your documents and paperwork such as certificates, experience, degrees, letters, credentials, etc.

Possible Changes to Immigration Reform and H1B Visas.

IfWhile no official details have been formally released as of yet, you can safely assume that if the H1B quota and demand doesn’t increase, then a lottery will be had for 2016. We will provide updated information as soon as it becomes available.

Comprehensive immigration reform.

Some have speculated that some proposed changes will be made as part of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform, including an increased cap from 65,000 to 110,000 and an advanced degree from 20,000 to 25,000. There are also new ruled to try and keep H1B Visa fraud from happening. Read more on Obama’s comprehensive immigration reform.

Has a Petition Been Accepted Yet?

We know that waiting for long periods of time is very stressful for you and your family. That is why we work hard to provide you the most up-to-date information and of any new developments that go with your case. In the past, the USCIS has been fairly quick with making sure we send everyone proper information regarding approval notices and even alerting those who have not been accepted by the lottery.

Why early preparation is essential.

It is a good idea to begin prepping for your case and we definitely advise you should start right away. The employers can also begin to consider which of their workers require H1B cap-subject filings. Usually, they are recent graduates who work on F1 OPT. Although, companies that are multicultural may include L1B workers who approach their 5-year mark on L1B visas. It is up to the employers to make sure they meet the needs of their workforce for 2016 and begin putting together necessary documents for H-1B petitions.

Though, with that being said, the responsibility doesn’t completely fall on the employer. To make sure all their paperwork is finalized and properly filed, a foreign national must work hand-in-hand with their employer to get it done. Never wait until the last minute as it becomes much more difficult to correct any issues that may arise.

Challenges Exclusive to Startups and Small Businesses.

While an H1B application is awaiting its approval, some small business may face some challenges. The USCIS must consider that the employer who is petitioning has a enough of a cash flow and their policies in place so an employee is paid proper wages outlined in the LCA. Larger corporations hardly find issues with this, but smaller ones just may not have enough resources during the beginning stages of operations. If the startup meets all the criteria, they will still have to pay all the fees associated with H1B petitions. That can include costs of several thousand dollars, not including lawyer fees.

Conflicts for founders and co-founders.

Different challenges arise when the employee who is petitioning is also a startup founder or co-founder due to the fact that the USCIS requires the employee to have a distinct employee/employer relationship with the company. This isn’t the same if the employer and employee are the same person, so the startup must prove there is a different Board of Directors with the ability to supervise, hire, and pay the individual. Through this channel, it’s a good way to obtain and H1B visa.

How do individuals find a sponsor?

There are several ways to find sponsored companies for an H1B visa. You can choose by searching through the different company databases who are sponsors, starting with an internship and moving forward to a visa sponsorship and channels through American based universities. A list of H1B sponsors is put out quarterly through the Labor Department. Another option for your choosing is to look through different employment sites so you can have a better search with your personal information.

What are the standard H-1B Visa fees?

When filing a petition, the petitioner and/or sponsoring employer has to make sure they pay for the fees for filing, fraud detection and prevention, employer sponsorship, and premium processing. There may be other fees that are specific to your case. If you wish to figure out the specifics and determine how your case might be different, you always have the option to speak with a professional and ask questions about the all 2015 filing deadline.

Employer visa fees.

The employer, by law, is responsible for the training fee if needed and a fraud fee. If the employer tries to tell you that you have to pay the fees, you should know right away that it is incorrect and those fees are on them.

Perks of premium processing.

Your general H-1B transfer has to endure the same process as if you were starting over and putting together a new petition. Each filing is unique to the employer. A difference might be if you transfer and it’s not counted against the cap. To push things along, the USCIS has a premium process which will guarantee that it’s worked on within 15 days of receiving your paperwork.

Why do some petitions take longer than others?

If you have two unique petitions sent at the same time, there is no guarantee they will be approved together. USCIS service centers work at difference paces, so there’s no way to know exactly when your case will be handled. So again, premium processing is the way to go for rush cases.

We are here to Help you!

Attorney Patel is knowledgeable in every area when it comes to H1B petitioning as well as other visa cases. We will walk you through the process of filing your petition and make sure your case gets the right amount of care that your case deserves. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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