Engaging and retaining smart, competitively trained, and diverse talent is critical for all businesses competing in a global economy. For many U.S. businesses across all industries, this means employing foreign workers who have either earned their college or graduate degrees abroad or in the U.S. and who seek to contribute to the U.S. economy. This brings us to the most used visa category in the U.S. providing businesses with access to this talent, the H-1B and the impending H-1B cap season.
Given that there are only a limited number of new H-1B visas issued each fiscal year, it is critical to start planning well in advance of the expected filings to take place for the 2017 FY. While the government fiscal year may not start until October 1, filings to secure an H-1B visa take place the first week of April. As a great deal of groundwork goes into preparing an H-1B petition, now is the time for employers to begin the process.
U.S. businesses hoping to apply for one of the coveted H-1B visas for the 2017 FY should immediately take account of their current workforce and recruiting efforts to identify potential H-1B petitions that may be subject to the H-1B annual quota. H-1B petitions for the 2017 FY must be ready and filed within the first five date of April to have a chance at the visa. In April 2015, the cap for the 2016 FY was reached during the first week of submissions (April 1-5), with more than 233,000 petitions being filed. A daunting number considering that only 65,000 new H-1B visas are available each fiscal year with an additional 20,000 available for individuals who earned a Master’s or higher degree from an accredited school in the United States.
As offers go out to current or prospective employees in the U.S. in temporary student status (F-1) or to individuals not in the U.S. or not in H-1B status, planning and taking action early will at minimum ensure your petitions are filed in a timely manner.
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For more information on this alert, please contact the author or a member of Polsinelli's Immigration practice.