Time is running out to prepare H-1B petitions to make the annual cap! On April 1, 2016, USCIS will begin accepting petitions for H-1B temporary workers for Fiscal Year 2017. If approved, H-1B status will become effective no earlier than October 1, 2016. There are only 65,000 new H-1B visas available each fiscal year (with an additional 20,000 reserved for foreign nationals with a U.S. master's degree or higher). Employers who want to sponsor foreign professionals should initiate H-1B petition processing now.
Last year, USCIS received approximately 233,000 H-1B petitions, and the year before that, 172,500 petitions were received. For fiscal year 2017, total H-1B petitions could approach 300,000. When this occurs, a computer-generated "lottery" is used to select petitions against the numerical cap. As in years past, the cap likely will be exhausted in the first week of available filing.
The H-1B annual quota applies to foreign nationals who do not presently hold H-1B status, including recent foreign student graduates who are working during their one year of "optional practical training." This cap does not apply to filings for H-1B workers who have already been counted against the annual H-1B quota, which includes requests for extensions of stay or changes in employer sponsor. Certain types of employers are exempt from the H-1B annual quota, including institutions of higher education and their related or affiliated nonprofit entities (including some hospitals), and nonprofit research organizations or government research organizations.
All H-1B employers are obligated to pay the H-1B worker a minimum prevailing wage for the offered position, and the category is only available for professional-level employment which typically requires a minimum of baccalaureate level education in a specific discipline. This classification is widely utilized by U.S. companies on behalf of foreign engineers, information technology professionals, physicians, professors, executives, managers and other professionals and is often the only available option for temporary employment in the U.S.
To discuss H-1B eligibility and requirements, please contact Kristin Kelley
, Jenifer M. Brown
, Christl P. Glier
, or any member of Ice Miller's Immigration Group
This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.