April 1, 2016 will be the first day that USCIS will begin to accept H1B visa cap petitions for the 2017 fiscal year. Obtaining an H1B visa has become increasingly more difficult in recent years as the pool of candidates continues to increase while the cap has not. For this reason, it is essential that any candidate hoping to be awarded an H1B visa for 2017 to have an error-free petition that is filed in a timely manner. A key element of this is proper planning that occurs well before the submission date. This article will outline the recommended timeline to be followed for the 2017 H1B season.
H1B Cap Trends in Previous Years
Hopeful H1B candidates and employers should understand the trend that has been emerging over recent years. The H1B quota continues to be reached extremely quickly each year. Below is a brief summary of how quickly the visa cap was reached over the previous three years.
FY 2016 – The H1B Master’s and regular cap was reached within the first week following the first day USCIS began accepting petitions. USCIS conducted a lottery on the 13th of April 2015. In the FY 2016, USCIS received about 233,000 petitions in just the first five business days of the start of the period of filing – this was the highest cap filing numbers ever received. USCIS returned about 63% of the H1B petitions filed.
FY 2015 – The H1B Master’s and regular cap was reached within the first week following the first day USCIS began accepting petitions. USCIS conducted a lottery on the 10th of April 2015.
FY 2014 – The H1B Master’s and regular cap was reached within the first week following the first day USCIS began accepting petitions. USCIS conducted a lottery on the 7th of April 2015.
The competitiveness of receiving an H1B visa approval is illustrated by the trend of the previous three years. This trend will continue into the 2017 filing season, increasing the urgency of an error-free filing even further. Continue reading for useful filing guidelines to follow for the upcoming H1B filing season.
Beginning of December
The first step of the filing process can begin in early December. Candidates and employers should identify their needs and discuss filing strategies with their respective immigration attorneys. Potential H1B employers should remember that if they want to hire a worker who has previously received an H1B approval that is is also important to find out whether that individual has previously been counted towards the H1B visa cap or not.
Gather any supporting evidence such as qualifications, degrees, transcripts and letters of experience to be included in the evaluation of their credentials. An important element to this is the need for an assessment of the equivalence of any foreign degree that may be submitted alongside the H1B petition. Obtaining this evaluation can sometimes be a lengthy process and therefore it is not recommended to wait until close to the deadline to pursue it (as others may also be seeking evaluations). Acquiring this supporting documentation early on can help ensure a timely filing.
There are several steps that can be taken in February 2016 to continue to develop an H1B petition. In early February it is recommended to begin to develop a comprehensive list of job selections. In mid to late February it is recommended to establish the prevailing wage as well as to file the Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL). The LCA must be filed prior to filing the H1B petition.
Beginning of March
Utilize early March to prepare all the required forms of the H1B petition and to assemble the completed petition that includes:
- Correctly completed forms.
- A Letter of Support.
- All other supporting documentation.
- All applicable fees.
KPPB law has qualified and experienced attorneys to help you prepare and file your H1B petition. Our comprehensive H1B visa services guarantee an error-free filing experience which will ensure the best results possible for your case. We offer our esteemed clients an initial consultation by phone or at our offices. To set up a consultation or to discuss your case – send our immigration lawyers an online message or call our offices. We look forward to working with you this H1B season!