Is it already time to start planning for the H-1B process? Yes. The H-1B season is coming sooner than you may think. And if next year is anything like this past year, employers need to be ready to move quickly.
The H-1B visa is designed for employees who have at least a U.S. bachelor's degree (or the equivalent) in a specific field who will be working in a job which requires that type of degree. For instance, school systems hire teachers and IT specialists using the H-1B visa. Biotech companies hire engineers and scientists. Accounting firms hire accountants and mathematicians.
In fact, the temporary H-1B visa can be coupled together with a process leading to permanent residency because H-1B visas are considered "dual-intent", allowing a person to simultaneously pursue H-1B visa status and also a pathway towards a "green card."
Because the H-1B category is so flexible and far-reaching, it is no surprise that it is in the most popular category for employers hiring foreign-born talent across the U.S. However, there is not an unlimited number of H-1B visas. Quite the opposite. Unfortunately, there is a statutory cap of 65,000 new H-1B visas per year; there are an additional 20,000 H-1Bs available to graduates of advanced-degree programs (master's degree or higher) from a college or university in the U.S. Those new visa numbers are released on the first day of the U.S. government's fiscal year, which is October 1. Employers can file H-1B petitions up to six months in advance, which makes April 1 the date to circle on the calendar: that is the first date to file, and the date employers should plan to file.
In 2013, all H-1B visas were used up in the first week. Employers who put off filing were left out in the cold, having to wait another year before being able to sponsor valuable employees. That wait could be devastating: employees' statuses expire and business opportunities disappear.
There is no reason to expect 2014 to be any different from 2013. If you are thinking about hiring a foreign professional worker, now is the time to begin planning and preparing for the H-1B process. Getting that petition ready for an April 1 filing will put your company in the best position to secure a valuable H-1B visa for your employee.
At Dyer Immigration Law Group, our attorneys and staff are dedicated to helping our clients successfully navigate the H-1B visa process to meet their business and immigration needs.