It is now time to evaluate your company’s anticipated hiring needs of H-1B professionals (specifically, those requiring initial H-1B visas) for the 12-month period beginning on October 1, 2015. October 1 is the date when the U.S. government’s fiscal year begins. It is also the date on which new H-1B visas become available under the annual “H-1B cap.”
Employers may only file new H-1B petitions, at most, six (6) months in advance of the anticipated start date of October 1, 2015, making April 1, 2015 the earliest an Employer could file an H-1B petition on a person’s behalf. There are 85,000 H-1B visas available, which includes 20,000 H-1B visas that are reserved for foreign nationals who have obtained an advanced degree (Master’s or higher) from a U.S. university.
Our clients who have previously been involved in the process of sponsoring foreign national professional employees understand how quickly the allotment of H-1B visas is filled. In 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service received approximately 172,500 H-1B petitions during the week of April 1. We anticipate that the H-1B cap for fiscal year 2016 will also be met in the first week of April. As such, we intend to have all H-1B petitions that we prepare on behalf of our clients completed by the end of March, to ensure we meet the filing date of April 1. This year, April 1 falls on a Wednesday, so we intend to send all cap-subject petitions by next-day courier on March 31 to ensure receipt by USCIS on April 1.
As in past years, there are some foreign nationals who will not be subject to the H-1B cap. These include individuals who were counted against the cap in a prior year and have not subsequently been outside the U.S. for one year or more. In addition, certain employers, such as universities, government-funded research organizations and some nonprofit entities are exempt from the H-1B cap.
As you evaluate your company’s hiring needs over the next few months, please keep our office informed of any new hires or current employees requiring H-1B status for October 1, 2015. This would include F-1 students hired with work authorization (Optional Practical Training) that expires before the spring of 2016, L-1B nonimmigrants who will be relocated to the U.S. on a long-term basis (more than 5 years), or any TN nonimmigrants whom you may want to sponsor for permanent residency. In order to ensure that we can prepare the petition and supporting documents prior to the end of March, it is vital to we are notified of any potential H-1B cap petitions as soon as possible.