Did you know that every year, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency announces an initial registration period for H-1B visas and a corresponding cap? This year’s cap season lasts through March 17th, and hopeful petitioners can submit their applications online during this time.
If you plan to apply for an H-1B visa, now is the time to act. This is especially true for beneficiaries looking for any exemptions. If your petition is not accepted or you miss the deadline, American Dream® Law Office can review alternative options with you.
What is an H-1B Visa?
This work visa is for professionals seeking to work in the United States in specialty occupations. An H-1B visa is a temporary nonimmigrant status visa allowing foreign nationals to bring their spouse and families with them to the United States.
Eligible family members (in addition to your spouse) are limited to unmarried children under 21 years of age. The H-1B visa for family members permits them to stay in the United States, but the visa does not include work authorization.
To be eligible for an H-1B visa, your employer petitions the USCIS agency. If your petition is approved, the visa entitles you to work in the United States for up to six years.
Qualifying for an H-1B Visa
Not everyone is eligible for an H-1B visa. To qualify, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Work in a field that requires specialized knowledge and have a related college degree that qualifies you for that occupation.
- You have a firm job offer from a United States employer for a salary that is commensurate with market value.
- Your academic background and professional credentials must be consistent with the job being offered.
- The company where you plan to work must file a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor.
About the H-1B Visa Cap
The most important thing to know about H-1B visas is that there is an annual cap every year on the number of petitions that get approved.
Currently, the maximum number of H-1B visas that can be issued is limited to 85,000. However, demand always exceeds supply, so having your application completed promptly and effectively is vital. Approval is based on a lottery system, where applications are randomly selected.
Even the 85,000 number is misleading, as 20,000 slots are already reserved for applicants with at least a Master’s degree earned from an accredited university in the United States. Further, Singapore and Chile get preferential treatment for the allocation of the remaining 65,000 due to a trade agreement.
An immigration attorney can help streamline the process and give you the best chance of approval for one of the coveted approvals. If you are not selected this year, you will have to wait until the next fiscal year, which begins October 1st.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney
Keep in mind that H-1B visa processing times can take between two to six months, so it’s wise to begin the application as soon as possible. Attorney Ahmad Yakzan is experienced in immigration matters. To get started, contact American Dream® Law Office today for a consultation.