Articles Posted in H-1B Quota

This year 233,000 applicants competed for the 65,000 H-1B visas available. This means over 150,000 applicants were not considered and denied the opportunity to apply. The unlucky applicants can wait and try again next year, but in the meantime there are other options available. This video gives a breakdown of the 6 alternative visas.

In addition to the options discussed in the video, below are some of the options explained further.

F-1 Student Visa

Students going to school in the US can apply for a F-1 visa. The F-1 visa allows the student to stay in the US as long as the student is enrolled in an accredited school and are active in a program that will result in a degree. Continue Reading

With the school year coming to a close, it’s time for foreign students to start thinking on ways to continue to remain in the United States, following the conclusion of their academic programs. Some college students on F-1 visas who are authorized to work pursuant to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program are able to find jobs in their field of study and may continue to remain in the US  their stay on an H-1B visa. However, moving from an F-1/OPT directly to H-1B can create a gap of time between the expiration of the OPT and before the H-1B visa starts. Fortunately there is a Cap-Gap, which allows applicants with pending or approved H-1B’s to extend OPT work authorization to cover this gap.

What’s required for an F-1 extension?

students-1197349-mIf you’ve secured an employer that will apply for an H-1B on your behalf, it’s essential that the H-1B is timely filed. The H-1B should be applied while the OPT is still in effect.

If the H-1B application is selected in the lottery and approved, an automatic F1/OPT extension will take place. On October 1st when the H-1B visa can officially take effect, the applicant should request a change of status. This will allow for a smooth transition from F-1/OPT to H-1B.

Things to watch out for

  • If the H-1B application is not chosen in the CAP or the H-1B application is denied, the applicant will be granted a 60-day grace period. During this time the applicant must make plans to leave the United States.
  • Once an applicant enters the 60-day grace period, the applicant is no longer authorized to legally work inside the United States.

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As H-1B season approaches, it’s time to begin your application process for a spot in the lottery. Currently, the USCIS allots 65,000 H-1B visas each year. Vying for a spot in the lottery are an estimated  195,000 applicants.   With three times the amount of applicants than visas available,  many applicants will be unable to get H-1B status due to sheer lack of numbers.

The Obama administration has attempted to combat  immigration reform but these attempts have not survived in Congress. One bill called the Immigration Innovation Act proposes to increase the amount of H-1B issued from 65,000 to 115,000.  The bill also proposes a removal of the 20,000 Cap on applicants with U.S. Master’s degree.

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In approximately two months, H-1B visa petitions can be filed with USCIS during the first week of April. Only 85,000 of these visas will be selected, and last year they were distributed via a random lottery system. Companies across America are gearing up their internal departments and coordinating with immigration attorneys in preparation for these H-1B filings.

Demand has only increased in the last few years. In the fiscal years of 2010, 2011, and 2012, USCIS was able to accept H1-B petitions well into November, December, and January. However, for the fiscal year of 2013, the quota was met in June. Then for the fiscal year of 2014, the quota was met on April 5. Approximately 150,000 petitions were filed during that first week of April, meaning that approximately 65,000 H1-B applicants may have been turned away. Given this pent up demand, it is likely that the H1-B visa cap for the fiscal year of 2015 will fill up quickly.

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Just as we and many other sites have predicted, the H1-B visa hit its cap on Friday, April 5th, just a mere four days since the opening date on April 1st.

Even before this year’s H1-B visa application season opened, there was talk of a possible lottery. USCIS, the government branch in charge of handling a large proportion of visa petitions, has done a lottery for H1-B visas in the past – most notably in 2008 when the H1-B visa cap was reached on the very first day. This year’s lottery involves a computer-generated random selection process, starting first with the advanced degree petitions. USCIS  announced today (Monday April 8th) that it received  approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption.

The speed at which the H1-B visa cap was exhausted bolsters our blog posts and other media outlets’ reports on the need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. In particular, there has been numerous pushes to raise the H1-B visa cap to allow foreign talent to work for the benefit of American companies and spur productivity. John Feinblatt, Chief Policy Advisor to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chairman of the Partnership for a New American Economy, reflected similar sentiments when he stated, “The fact that our supply of H-1B visas was exhausted so quickly is not only emblematic of our broken immigration system – it represents yet another missed opportunity to attract the world’s best and brightest to our shores.”

As we’ve stated before, some H1-B related Comprehensive Immigration Reform proposals include allowing H1-B visa holders to get green cards by investing $100,000 to start a business and hire two full-time employees. The proposed Immigration Innovation Act 3.0 will also almost double the current visa cap from 65,000 to 115,000 and allow for unlimited H1-B visas for those who have a Master’s Degree from a United States University.

If you have any questions about the H1-B visa or any of your immigration issues, contact our office!

Comprehensive Immigration Reform could  include a doubling of H-1B visas. The H-1B visa numbers for the year 2013 remain the same.  Our previous blogs have discussed this and the Washington Post reported the same earlier last week,

This post will discuss the H-1B visas and their significance to the US economy.

What is the H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa provides temporary status to live and work in the United States. It is the employer, not the worker, that files the application and, if successful, the H-1B visa is tied to that sponsoring employer. If the H-1B worker quits, is laid off, or otherwise loses the connection to the sponsoring employer, the worker must find a new H-1B sponsoring employer, change to a different visa or get a green card, or leave the United States. The H-1B visa holder must, at the least, have a bachelor’s degree and must work in a “specialty occupation, ”defined as an occupation requiring at least a Bachelor’s Degree.

Are there deadlines and other restrictions with the H-1B visa?

Yes, there is a 65,000 quota cap on the number of H1B visas with a special exemption for 20,000 people with a master’s degree or higher from an American university (i.e, a total of 85,000). The quota traditionally fills up quickly soon after applications open – last year, applications were accepted starting April 2, 2012 and were closed on June 11, 2012. This year, applications open on April 1, 2013 with expectations to close as soon as April 5. Family members do not count against the visa quota.

Are there any fees for filing an H-1B application?

Yes. The fees from this year range from $1,575 to $4,325, with an additional $1,225 for premium processing. Most of the fees are covered by employers, but in some instances it is appropriate for the employee to pay some part of the fee. The fee does not include attorney fees, travel costs, etc.

Can an H-1B visa holder eventually get a green card?

Yes, but indirectly. H-1B visa holders may adjust status to get legal permanent residence through either a qualifying relative or an employer. This is how most temporary visa holders adjust their status.

When are H-1B visa holders not subject to the annual cap H-1B visa holders who spent more than one year outside of U.S. and did not use up their entire six-year term can choose to be re-admitted for the “remainder” of initial six-year period without being subject to the H-1B visa cap of 85,000.  In addition, H-1B employees of hospitals, research and educational institutes, and non-profit organizations are exempt from the annual cap.  This means that these employers can petition for an H-1B visa for their employees any time of the year.

Furthermore, family members of H-1B visa holders that come under the H-4 status will not count against the six-year maximum period if the family member chooses to pursue an H-1B visa of their own.

Why are H-1B visas so important?

H-1B Visas are one of the key ways technology companies, from start-ups to Google, hire  international talent. Although the H-1B visa can be used for a variety of occupations and not just tech jobs, the fact that  Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are  backing  this reform shows how important the issue is for the technology sector. However, as  the H-1B visa requires a bachelor’s degree or higher and a position in a “specialty occupation,” H-1B visa reform could impact a large variety of industries.

If you would like to discuss your H-1B visa case or have any questions about the process, feel free to contact our office and an expert immigration attorney will assist you!

April 1, 2013 marks the day USCIS will start taking H1-B Visa applications for the next fiscal year. As this date approaches amidst the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”) debate, the question of how much CIR will change the H1-B visa process comes up.

The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, a bipartisan CIR bill introduced by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Klobuchar (D-MN), Rubio (R-FL), and Coons (D-DE) at the end of January this year, touched upon  on some of these changes. Not only will it nearly double the current H1-B visa cap of 65,000 to 115,000,  it will also allow spouses of H1-B beneficiaries to work.  An unlimited number of H-1B visas will be available to those with a U.S. Master’s degrees, up from the current limit of 20,000.. It would also give H1-B visa beneficiaries much needed flexibility by removing procedural hurdles and costs when changing employers and restoring revalidation for E, H, L, O, and P nonimmigrant visa categories. Fees from the H1-B and other immigration programs would  fund an initiative to attract more STEM talent to come  and stay in the United States.

Please note that until the Immigration Innovation Act is passed into law, the H-1B visa numbers are limited to 65,000 with an additional 20,000 for those with US Master’s degrees.  H-4 visa holders cannot work.  This is the current status-quo as we approach the H-1B Quota for fiscal year 2014.

Major Silicon Valley companies like Microsoft, HP, Intel, Cisco, and Oracle support this Act..  We too support this Act as well, as it will not only address the  shortage of skilled labor in the IT  field, but will also help America gain its technical edge over other countries. Although some critics of the Immigration Innovation Act and the H1-B visa in general condemn the visa as a way of outsourcing labor and displacing American talent, those criticisms are unfounded. The reason why these criticisms are unfounded is because H1-B visa holders would rather stay and further contribute to the American economy, but have no choice but to go back when their visa expires. By offering a path to citizenship, or at least providing flexibility to other nonimmigrant visa categories, it encourages H1-B beneficiaries to remain in the US where they pay taxes, start companies that hire more American labor, and otherwise contribute to the American economy.

Stay tuned for more articles on CIR, H1-B, and other immigration issues. Contact us if you have any questions about this article or about your own immigration situation!

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”)  will start accepting new cap-subject H-1B petitions with effect from Monday, April 1, 2013.  Employers looking to hire a foreign national in the US in a “specialty occupation” may sponsor their  H-1B visa.  Specialty occupations are those that require, at a minimum, a Bachelor’s Degree.

These new cap-subject H-1B petitions will have a start of October 1, 2013.

Only a first-time H-1B employee will be counted against the H-1B quota.  An H-1B change-of-employer or an H-1B extension filing is not counted towards the year’s quota numbers.

There are 65,000 H-1B’s available each year under the regular quota.  An additional 20,000 H-1B’s are available to those foreign nationals who have a Master’s degree from a US university.  Once the 20,000 visas reserved for Master’s degree holders is exhausted, the visas remaining from the regular quota will be utilized by both the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree holders.

It is anticipated that the H-1B quota is likely to get over soon this year-maybe within a few weeks.  Employers looking to sponsor H-1B visas must be prepared to submit the  paperwork as early as March 29th to ensure that USCIS receives the petitions on April 1st.

Students who are working pursuant to the Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) issued under the Optional Training Program should ensure that the employers file their  H-1B petitions before their EAD  expires.  This will ensure that they can continue to work for the H-1B employer until October 1st, 2013, even with an expired EAD.  H-1B 2013 Cap

For more information on the H-1B filing process, please contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal at sweta@khandelwalaw.com or 408 505 2065 I 408 200 0972.

The countdown begins!