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Employers! It’s time to consider H-1B Cap Subject petitions again…

Employers!  It’s time to consider H-1B Cap Subject petitions again…

The H-1B nonimmigrant visa is an employer sponsored temporary work visa for foreign national professional workers in specialty occupations in the United States. Many employers depend on the H-1B program in order to ensure that they can hire foreign nationals with specialized skills and help their businesses thrive and grow.

The H-1B process is common for U.S. employers and requires that the employer prepare and submit a petition to the USCIS on behalf of each professional foreign national employee.

There is an annual limit on the number of H-1B nonimmigrant visas available each Fiscal Year. The limit is set by Congress and is commonly known as the “H-1B Cap.” Under the H-1B Cap, each Fiscal Year, there are only 65,000 H-1B visas issued for foreign national employees with a Bachelor’s Degree. There are an additional 20,000 H-1B visas for foreign national employees with a U.S. Master’s Degree, for a total of 85,000 available H-1B nonimmigrant visas each Fiscal Year (FY).

We are once again approaching the H-1B Petition filing period for FY 2017, which begins on October 1, 2016. The window to submit an H-1B petition for FY 2017 opens April 1, 2016. Individuals with an approved H-1B Cap petition for FY 2017 will be authorized to begin working in H-1B status on October 1, 2016.

In recent years, USCIS has received many more petitions than the 85,000 available H-1B visas during the first five (5) business days of April (“H-1B Cap initial filing period”).

If there are more than 85,000 cases received during the H-1B Cap initial filing period, the H-1B Cap for FY 2017 will “close” and USCIS will use a random selection process (a lottery) to choose the cases that will be accepted for processing or rejected for the year.  Given the number of H-1B petitions filed over the last several years, (last year USCIS received over 230,000 petitions) it is very likely that the H-1B Cap will close during the initial filing period, and all H-1B petitions for FY 2017 will be selected on a lottery basis.   

Thus, in order to have the best chance to have an H-1B case processed for approval for FY 2017, employers should plan to prepare and submit their H-1B petitions on April 1, 2016. 

Once the H-1B Cap closes for FY 2017, there will be no more H-1B Cap subject visas available for until October 1, 2017. Importantly, H-1B transfer petitions or H-1B extension are not subject to the annual Cap.

Employers with possible beneficiaries or candidates to consider for H-1B sponsorship, should their current situation now, and evaluate whether this may be the time to prepare and submit an H-1B petition for consideration and approval.

For more information on the H-1B visa and the H-1B annual cap, please contact Kolko & Associates, P.C.

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Kolko & Casey, P.C. is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese and we can arrange for translators in any other language.