The H-1B Visa program allows U.S. companies to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations which require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience for entry into the field. Because Congress has limited the number of foreign nationals that U.S. workers may employ in these positions. This limitation or quota, has resulted in an “H-1B cap season” as demand for these visas far outstrips supply (many U.S. company’s have simply moved parts of their operations overseas due to their inability to bring top talent to the U.S. as a result of the cap). The H-1B cap season begins on the first business day of April usually ends 3 to 5 days.
During this 3 to 5-day period, employers must submit their H1-B applications to USCIS for consideration. Inevitably, there are more applicants than there are available visas and a lottery system is used to determine who will be considered for an H-1B visa. In 2018, there were only 65,000 visas available with nearly 200,000 applicants. H-1B visas are typically granted for a three-year period, but that may be extended to a maximum of six years (exceptions exist under AC21).
Florida employers who hire foreign workers might find the process a bit more challenging than they are used to in the coming years. As immigration continues to take center stage at the national level, employers and foreign workers must take extra care with their visa applications and renewals to ensure workers can obtain initial approval and legally remain in their U.S. jobs once approved.
Tips For Submitting H-1B Visa Applications
USCIS will use any excuse to remove an applicant from the lottery pool. Take extra care when completing the application and make sure all required documentation is provided.
- Start Early. Deadlines are absolute and late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. Employers and applicants should begin preparing their applications in January, or even earlier, in order to be ready to file their paperwork in April.
- Plan for RFEs. Request for Evidence used to be infrequent but over the las 5 to 10 years have now become common place.. RFEs are the new norm. Plan to provide additional documentation and do not panic if you receive an RFE request.
- Be Prepared for Changes at any Time. Be vigilant about changes to current H-1B requirements and processing procedures which can change quickly.
- Explore your Options. If you are not selected or miss the deadline, there may be other visa alternatives. Speak to an immigration law attorney regarding eligibility for L-1, O-1, E-3, or H-1B1 options. In some instances labor certification may also be an option where long term employment is anticipated.
Seek Legal Help For Employment-Based Visas
Immigration applications are being scrutinized like never before. We cannot stress enough the need to make sure every application is properly prepared, supported with the appropriate evidence and that all of the statutory requirements are explained. All visa options should be fully explored.
Contact the immigration attorneys at Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie & Finkenbinder, P.A. in Kissimmee, FL for help securing employment-based visas, like the H1-B, or for assistance in hiring foreign workers.
Contact our team at 407.847.5151 to arrange a consultation.