H-1B Season Is Upon Us

Accountants have tax season. Business immigration attorneys have H-1B season, which is now upon us.

This year, H-1B season starts one month earlier with pre-registration on March 1st. This means now is the time for HR Departments to identify anyone who they may wish to sponsor for H-1B status.

The Basics: H-1B is a nonimmigrant status available to certain professionals. Basically, the occupation must be on that requires a Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent, and the professional must have the degree or similar credentials. Also, the employer must commit to pay the greater of the actual or prevailing wage for the position. H-1Bs are granted for three years initially, and can renew a second time for another three. There are rules upon rules, and exceptions to those rules, all of which give immigration attorneys purpose. In the end, this is one of the more typical paths for professionals to find work in the U.S., and can be a step towards permanent residence.

The Lottery: The H-1B program is capped at basically 85,000 spots annually, with a significant exception for “cap-exempt” employers. Each year, USCIS holds a lottery, because the agency receives more than two times as many applications as spots, at least in recent years. This year, the agency is having a lottery, where employers pay a $10 fee, provide information about themselves and the prospective employee, and then wait to see if they are picked in the lottery. If picked, they will have 90 days to submit the application.

This is a blog post. I will not cram in more details here, but I wish to communicate the message that now is the time to think about immigration sponsorships. Once the lottery is held, there won’t be another one until next year. All year long, we receive inquiries about work visas for foreign workers. There are other visa categories, but this is one solution that works very well for some. Some typical candidates for H-1Bs include students completing their Optional Practical Training, employees in TN status who are thinking about permanent residence, and key employees at foreign companies who intermittently need to work in the U.S. Or permanently, as the case may be.

A lottery is what it is: you have to “play” to win.

I’m available to discuss.