Employers across the country should be gearing up for the H-1B filing season. With the H-1B filing deadline approaching on April 1, 2015 – and the quota expected to be reached quickly, as in previous years – if you haven’t already begun preparing H-1B applications for your prospective employees, you should begin doing so now.
The Chicago immigration lawyers at Shapiro Law Office focus on helping employers prepare their H-1B applications so that they are filed in a timely manner.
What Employees Are Eligible for an H-1B Visa?
The H-1B non-immigrant visa is available to foreign workers who are employed by U.S. companies in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers. In order to qualify for an H-1B visa, the employee must meet the following requirements:
- The applicant’s job position requires a bachelor’s or higher degree;
- The applicant possesses at least a bachelor’s degree or its U.S. equivalent, or a combination of education and experience equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree; and
- The wage offered to the applicant is at least the prevailing wage, or the actual wage paid to other professionals similarly employed, whichever is higher.
What Are the Quota Limits for H-1B Visas?
Each year, the USCIS sets the quota limit for H-1B visas. This year the H-1B cap remains at 65,000 in the general category and 20,000 in the advanced degree category. Once the quota is met, USCIS will not issue any more H-1B visas until the following year. Accordingly, it is essential that employers submit their H-1B visa petitions in a timely manner so that they are received as soon as the filing period opens. Even if an application is submitted in a timely manner, however, there is no guarantee that an H-1B visa will be issued since, in most years, the USCIS receives applications in excess of the quota limit and a lottery is used to select eligible applications.
As we reported, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received approximately 172,500 H-1B petitions during the first week of the filing period last year. Accordingly, on April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process to select those petitions that would be used to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 advanced degree exemption cap. Unfortunately, those petitions that were not randomly selected were rejected and returned to the petitioner along with the applicable filing fees.
How Should Employers Prepare for H-1B Visa Filing Period?
H-1B visa petition filings open on April 1, 2015 for the FY 2016 quota, and the H-1B visa cap is expected to be reached rather quickly. Accordingly, we strongly recommend that employers prepare in advance and mail their H-1B visa petitions on March 31, 2015 so that they can be received by USCIS on April 1, 2015. Do not send the petition in too early, however, as any H-1B petitions subject to the cap that are received by USCIS before April 1, 2015 will be rejected.
Contact Us Now for Help with Your H-1B Visa Petition
If you are looking for an immigration lawyer in Chicago, contact Shapiro Law Group at (847) 564-0712. With more than 30 years of experience helping clients with their visa and immigration needs, we considerable knowledge of the H-1B petition process and can guide you through the entire process. With quota requirements in mind, we will work with you to file the necessary application with the necessary supporting documentation in a timely manner to increase the chances of success. Contact us at (847) 564-0712 to discuss your visa needs with one of our employment immigration lawyers.