July 25, 2014

It's time to file H-1B (Specialty Occupation) Petitions: Employer Alert

On April 1, 2013, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting new H-1B visa petitions for employment that will begin on October 1, 2013. The H-1B visa is a popular choice for companies that plan to hire a foreign worker to fill a "professional" or "specialty occupation" position requiring a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a specific field. Possible candidates for H-1B status include current employees in student status (F-1 or J-1) or potential new hires.

There are 65,000 new H-1B visas available each year, in addition to 20,000 H-1B visas reserved for holders of U.S. master's or higher degrees. Kindly note, the USCIS reached the quota on June 11 of last year. We anticipate that the H-1B visa numbers will be used more quickly this year because of the continued economic recovery and recent increases in the evidentiary burden of other closely related visa categories. Consequently, filing your H-1B petitions on the first day permitted (April 1) will increase your chances of obtaining one of the highly coveted H-1B visa numbers.

To meet a target filing date of April 1, we recommend that you start the application process now. Before we can file an H-1B petition with USCIS, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) must certify a Labor Condition Application for the position. The USDOL is generally taking at least seven days to process Labor Condition Applications, and we expect this processing time to increase in March as employers prepare to file H-1B petitions. Please note that there are some exemptions from this cap for colleges and universities and those who have held H-1B status in the past six years, but these exemptions are quite limited.

Therefore, it is critical that your organization begin the H-1B process as soon as possible to ensure that an H-1B number will be available for this Fiscal Year. Once the H-1B numbers are exhausted, employers will not be able to obtain new H-1B status for employees until October 1, 2014!

© 2014 Vedder Price

About the Author

Gabrielle M. Buckley, Immigration Attorney, Vedder Price Law Firm

Gabrielle M. Buckley is a shareholder in the firm’s Corporate Practice Area. Ms. Buckley has over 25 years of experience counseling U.S.- and foreign-based companies with regard to all aspects of employment-related immigration laws. She advises employers as to immigration law issues arising in corporate mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and other forms of corporate reorganization. Ms. Buckley assists clients in obtaining temporary and permanent immigration status in virtually every immigration category. She develops immigration compliance policies for employers and...


About the Author

Bradley A. Richards, Vedder Price Law Firm, Immigration Attorney

Bradley A. Richards is an Associate in the firm’s Business Immigration practice group.

Representing corporate clients in a variety of industries, Mr. Richards focuses his practice on all aspects of U.S. immigration law. His experience includes employment-based nonimmigrant visa petitions, immigrant petitions, adjustment of status applications, PERM applications, family-based immigration, and appearances at local USCIS offices thoughout the United States. He also has extensive experience in advising on U.S. consular issues, including eVisa applications and other...


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