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Polsinelli - Immigration Polsinelli - Immigration


February 2015


The H-1B Visa - the New Powerball







For more information about this alert, please contact:


Jeffrey S. Bell



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Additional Immigration contacts:


Mahsa Aliaskari


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Doreen D. Dodson


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Dawn M. Lurie


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The Time is Now

Based on the extremely limited nature of the H-1B filing window, employers are advised to begin laying the groundwork now to maximize the opportunity to obtain one of the highly coveted H-1B slots.

The H-1B is the main visa used by U.S. employers to hire highly skilled professional foreign workers. Each year on October 1st, approximately 65,000 H-1Bs are made available (with an additional 20,000 for foreign nationals with masters degree or higher from an American university), and once these visas are allocated, the H-1B window is closed until the following year. In 2014, all of the available H-1Bs were snapped up by employers during the first week of the filing period. In fact, employers filed applications for more than twice the available number of H-1Bs, leading to an H-1B lottery. With the improving economy an even greater demand for H-1Bs exists in 2015, and employers should begin planning now for the coming H-1B filing season.

Employers are allowed to file H-1B applications starting six months prior to the start of the new H-1B year. This means the filing season for the next round of H-1Bs begins on April 1, 2015, and we predict all of the H-1Bs will be spoken for by no later than April 6.

Certain employers are exempt from the H-1B cap, including institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education, and nonprofit or governmental research organizations. There is no yearly limitation for non-exempt H-1Bs. In addition, the H-1B cap does not apply to foreign workers who have been granted H-1B status in the past six years and have already been counted against the cap. Employers are free to file for H-1Bs at any time for these cap-exempt employees, which can be an attractive recruiting and staffing option for employers to consider.

Some H-1B Basics

A common misconception is that the H-1B is just for high-tech workers. While it is true that many technology companies employ foreign workers on H-1B visas, the H-1B is also available for positions in health care, engineering, business, and manufacturing, among other industries. Generally, positions which require at least a bachelor's degree in a specialized area are suitable for H-1B sponsorship. As part of sponsoring an employee or potential employee for H-1B status, an employer must agree to certain conditions. Some of these conditions include:

  • The employer must offer the foreign worker the same employment benefits and working conditions as offered to other US employees.
  • The foreign worker must be paid a salary that is no less than the salary earned by similarly situated US employees.
  • The employer cannot materially change the terms or conditions of an H-1B worker's employment without notifying US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The H-1B provides long-term work authorization to the foreign employee. An initial grant of H-1B status can be valid for up to three years, and the employer may extend the H-1B for an additional three year term. The H-1B can be an excellent way for employers to retain key talent for a lengthy period of time.

For More Information

To begin planning your H-1B strategy in advance of the April 1st, 2015 opening date, please contact the author or your Polsinelli attorney.











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Polsinelli is a first generation Am Law 100 firm serving corporations, institutions, entrepreneurs and individuals nationally. Our attorneys successfully build enduring client relationships by providing practical legal counsel infused with business insight, and with a passion for assisting General Counsel and CEOs in achieving their objectives. Polsinelli is ranked 18th in number of U.S. partners* and has more than 740 attorneys in 19 offices. Profiled by The American Lawyer and ranked as the fastest growing U.S. law firm over a six-year period**, the firm focuses on health care, financial services, real estate, life sciences and technology, energy and business litigation, and has depth of experience in 100 service areas and 70 industries. The firm can be found online at Polsinelli PC. In California, Polsinelli LLP.

* Law360, March 2014
** The American Lawyer 2013 and 2014 reports






Polsinelli provides this material for informational purposes only. The material provided herein is general and is not intended to be legal advice. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.

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