An important deadline for foreign national professionals is coming up fast. The first day this year for filing new H-1B petitions for these workers is April 1, 2013. Thousands of H-1B petitions will be filed on this day from employers all over the country. If more petitions are filed than new visas are allocated for this status in the next federal fiscal year, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services will conduct a lottery to assign the visas. Lottery winners will get a new H-1B visa allowing them to work in the U.S. for up to six years if their petitions are approved. Losers will have to scramble for other status options or leave the U.S. and find work elsewhere.
The statutory limit on new H-1B visas is 65,000 in each federal fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 offered to candidates with a U.S. master’s or higher degree. During the economic downturn, new H-1B visas were available until late in the year, but last year the supply ran out in June, which is more typical. This created significant problems for employers wanting to hire foreign nationals who needed new H-1B status later in the year. This year, the immigration bar anticipates that the H-1B cap will fill early in the filing season, and that a lottery is possible.
Employers who have employees or applicants for whom they know they will need an H-1B visa should contact MSEC now in order to confirm that this is the appropriate status for the employee and to get the processing started, according to Chris Bauer, Manager of MSEC’s Immigration Services. This initial analysis is offered without charge as a benefit of membership.
Indications that the employee will need an H-1B visa are that the employee is or will be working in a professional position and that the employee is either completing a degree this spring or is working now on a temporary Employment Authorization Card (EAD) that s/he received when s/he graduated from a U.S. college last year. If the EAD expires any time before April 1, 2014, that employee should be sponsored for H-1B work status now. Applicants who are currently abroad can also be sponsored for a new H-1B visa by a U.S. employer but will not be able to start working until October 1, 2013.
Some situations are exempt from the H-1B cap and new visas can be obtained for these employees any time during the year. This includes employers who are U.S. educational institutions or affiliated with U.S. educational institutions, nonprofit research organizations, or governmental research organizations. Also exempt are physicians who have received a waiver under a state or federal program and individuals who currently are working for another employer in H-1B status.
If you have an employee who needs or might need an H-1B visa, contact Chris Bauer at 303-223-5431 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.