When should I start the H-1B visa process?


The H-1B visa allows an individual with a minimum of a bachelor's degree to be employed by a U.S. company in a professional position. The duties of the position must be specialized; basically, they must require a bachelor's degree level of education in order to perform them. Close attention must be paid to ensure that the duties of the proposed position are in fact specialized and closely related to the field of study leading to the bachelor's degree.

An experienced business immigration attorney is critical to this process. An experienced attorney can carefully evaluate the proposed job description to determine if it meets the H-1B requirements for "specialty occupation" and can help the client address common issues that are raised by USCIS in the adjudication of the petitions, all of these issues should be addressed at front end to ensure a strong and approvable petition is submitted.

Many of the prospective clients that I meet with are not aware of the limit on visa availability or the precise timing for filing of the visa. With close to 10 years of experience in this area, we are able to clearly explain the process and prepare the clients well in advance of the filing deadlines to optimize chances of success in securing a visa.

Each year 65,000 H-1B visas are made available for professionals seeking to work in the United States in a Specialty Occupation. The fiscal year begins on October 1 st, which is the first date that an individual with an approved H-1B visa may begin work. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts H-1B petitions six months in advance, therefore, USCIS starts processing these petitions on April 1 st of each year. A couple of years back, I would start filing H-1B visas on April 1 st and continue to do so over the next few months until the 65,000 visas were exhausted and USCIS advised us that the limit had been reached. For the last two years, the limit has been reached in the first week of acceptance, the first week of April. So for the last two years, if you did have a petition filed within the first week of acceptance, you lost your chance.

As the economy picks up so does the speed at which the H-1B visas are exhausted. The irony is that the booming economy means growth for a lot of businesses and with growth comes the need for specialized skills sets, often potential employees possessing these skill sets need H-1B visas. While there is talk of increasing the number of H-1B visas, we haven't seen that yet and so employers and foreign nationals seeking to work on these very limited H-1B visas must have a clear plan of action for securing one of the much sought after visas.

At Salas Law, our experienced Williamson County Immigration Attorneys have already begun preparing for the next H-1B season. If you have questions about qualifying or timing, now is the time to ask. Contact us today to speak with one of our experienced attorneys to understand the H-1B process and to determine your other visa options.

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