Are You Ready for the H1-B Lottery?
by Giselle Carson, Business Immigration Attorney with Marks Gray, P.A.
The first Monday in April, the filing period for cap-subject H-1Bs begins. The demand for H-1Bs continues to be high, so many employers and employees have questions about what to expect. Below are some essential things to know.
What is the H-1B visa?
The H-1B visa is designed for foreign workers who will be employed in a professional occupation that requires at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and specialized knowledge.
How many H-1B visas are available?
There is an annual limit of 85,000 cap-subject H-1B visas available, which includes 65,000 visas for foreign nationals holding a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and 20,000 for those holding U.S. advanced degrees, such as a master’s degree.
When can I file for cap-subject H-1B visas?
USCIS’ fiscal year (FY) runs from October 1st to September 30th. H-1B petitions can only be filed within six months of the employment start date.
The filing period begins the first Monday in April. USCIS typically accepts H-1B cap-subject petitions for the first five business days. Because of the very short filing period and the considerable work required before filing, particularly this year, it is very important to start early to prepare a strong H-1B petition.
Will there be a lottery for H-1B visas?
For the past several years, demand has far exceeded the H-1B cap. In 2017, 199,000 new cap-subject H-1B petitions were filed. In 2016, 236,000 were filed. In 2015, 233,000 petitions were filed. And, a lottery is expected this year also.
How does the lottery work?
USCIS conducts an electronic random lottery of the 20,000 advanced-degree petitions. Unselected petitions from the advanced-degree lottery are added to the lottery process for the 65,000 general H-1B visas.
About two months after the lottery is completed, USCIS begins returning the unselected petitions along with the filing fees.
What happens if my petition is selected?
About four weeks after the completion of the lottery, USCIS will begin issuing receipt notices for the selected petitions. Those petitions filed using premium processing service will be processed first and receive the first notices.
Who should consider applying for an H-1B visa?
Foreign students in the U.S. in F-1 status who have received their degree. Professionals abroad seeking to come and work in the United States.
Foreign nationals in the U.S. in other valid status, such as H-4, L-1, TN, E-3, E-1/E-2, and P-1s.
Employers should work promptly with an experienced, knowledgeable and energetic immigration counsel to prepare these filings.
Giselle Carson, Esq.
Marks Gray, P. A
1200 Riverplace Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida 32207
Click here for Giselle’s bio.