Guest Blog by Mitch Wexler – Partner, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP
H-1B visas are the mainstay of foreign nationals working in the US. There are only 85,000 new H-1B visas available per fiscal year. The Federal government’s fiscal year starts October 1st. Employers can file (compete) for H-1b visas 6 months early (April 1st). Last year the supply only last about 10 weeks. With the economy doing better this year, the supply is anticipated to go even faster.
3 things employer’s should do now:
Initiate the H1-B Visa Process
Identify any external candidates that may require a new H-1B visa and initiate the process ASAP. There may be other work visa options for some candidates.
Check H1-B Status of Current Employees
Identify any currently employed foreign nationals NOT in H-1B status that would be strategically better off if they were in H-1B status and initiate the process.
Be Prepared to File on April 1st, 2013
Actually, April 1st is on a Monday this year so be sure the USCIS is in receipt of the H-1B petitions on April 1st either by bonded courier on April 1st or sent by FedEx the Friday prior (with no Saturday delivery). In many cases, there are several weeks worth of “work up” for such filings that include, getting a “prevailing wage” determination from the Department of Labor (DOL), filing a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with DOL, getting any foreign degrees equated to a US standard, getting required letters of prior experience, registering with DOL, preparing supporting letters and other evidence, getting the paperwork reviewed and signed.
It is also important to know that once USCIS “receives” the petition, the applicant’s turn in line is secured. It does not matter if the petition is ultimately approved AFTER the cap has been reached. That said, many applicants choose to “premium process” their petitions to get an answer in 2 weeks as opposed to 2-3 months.
About the Author
Mitchell L. Wexler has been practicing immigration law for over 27 years. He is Partner with Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernson & Loewy (Fragomen), the largest immigration law firm in the world. Mitch is resident in the firm’s Irvine, CA office and sits on the firm’s Executive Committee. Mitch is a Specialist in immigration and nationality law, certified by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization. He is a prolific author on immigration law topics, having published over 200 articles.