By: Ryan M. Helgeson, Esq.
Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, the H-1B quota has been filled in the first week. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programming. What this means for employers is that any potential employees that may require an initial H-1B visa will have to wait until April 1, 2015 to file. Alternatively, the employer will have to find a different means of securing employment authorization for that employee.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2014 that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year 2015. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced-degree exemption.
Going forward, businesses must be prepared to file for any H-1B employees on the day the H-1B season opens (April 1 of each year) and they must have alternative strategies in place should their petition not be selected for processing.
USCIS received about 172,500 H-1B petitions during the filing period which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. Last year, USCIS received about 110,000 petitions in the same time period. On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees.
USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted towards this year's H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
- Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
- Amend the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
- Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and,
- Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
If you have any questions about employment-based visas or how the reaching of the quota may impact your company, Attorney Ryan Helgeson is happy to help you. Please contact Ryan at (630) 377-1554 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.