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The FY 2015 H-1B Visa Filing Date is fast approaching. As the primary method for non-immigrant skilled workers to obtain a U.S. work authorization, H-1B visas are in high demand. The USCIS will begin receiving applications April 1, 2016. 65,000 regular visas for skilled workers and 20,000 H-1B visas for U.S. University Master’s degree holders will be available under the FY 2017 cap. Those who will receive these visas will be eligible to start work on October 1, 2016.

For a job to qualify for an H-1B Specialty Occupation, it must, by nature of its complexity or the requisite knowledge, require possession of a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent for entry. For an individual to qualify for a job offer in a specialty occupation, they must at a minimum hold a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent by way of a foreign degree, professional license, or progressive professional experience giving the individual recognized expertise in that specialty.

It is forecast that this year like last year there will be more filings than visa numbers available and that the USCIS will institute a lottery of submitted cases. As per the law, USCIS is mandated to accept cases, until April 7th, 2016 this year.

The Immigration and Nationality Act 8 CFR Sec. 214.2(h)(7) states that:

“If the final receipt date is any of the first five business days on which petitions subject to the applicable numerical limit may be received (i.e., if the numerical limit is reached on any one of the first five business days that filings can be made), USCIS will randomly apply all of the numbers among the petitions received on any of those five business days…”

For planning purposes, intending petitioners should consider March 10th, 2016 as a deadline to finalize cases and obtain all the necessary supporting documentation. This is because the Labor Condition Application certification is sometimes delayed and can take over 10 to 15 days during filing season.

While there have been talks in Congress to expand the number of H-1B visas provided for under law, there are still concerns about the likelihood of the passage of any legislation in this area. There are also concerns that the conditions that may be additionally placed on such visas may prove to be unduly onerous on certain companies.

Please feel free to contact our firm with any questions or issues that you may have. We look forward to the opportunity of providing excellence in service to you and your organization.

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