On April 1st, 2014 employers can apply for foreign nationals they wish to sponsor for an H-1b visa. These applications would be for a start date of October 1st, 2014.
An applicant is eligible for an H-1b visa if they will be performing work in a “specialty occupation” and the Beneficiary (the foreign national) has a degree related to the specialty. A specialty occupation is one that typically requires a college degree and the employer requires a college degree.
Each year there are a total of 85,000 new H-1b visas available (20,000 of which are reserved for individuals that earned a U.S. Master’s or Doctorate degree). Individuals renewing their H-1b visas do not count towards this year’s cap.
Last year USCIS received approximately 124,000 applications during the first week they accepted petitions for H-1b visas. USCIS had a lottery to select which applicants would be eligible to have their H-1b visa applications adjudicated. Like last year we anticipate that they will exceed the 85,000 cap during the first week, and will be forced to hold a lottery. The lottery is actually 2 lotteries. First there is a lottery for anyone who has a U.S. Master’s or Doctorate. 20,000 of the 85,000 visas are reserved for this H-1b lottery. Next, there is a lottery for the remaining 65,000 H-1b visas. People with a U.S. Master’s or Doctorate are also eligible for the 2nd H-1b lottery if they are not selected in the first one.
Therefore, if you are considering applying for an H-1b visa it is important to plan accordingly. Now is the time for employers to consider if they will sponsor any foreign nationals this year. If you have any questions about an H-1b visa, please feel free to contact one of our immigration attorneys, who are happy to help.