The race for H-1B professional worker visas begins April 2, 2018. Employers of recently graduated foreign students and others will vie for new visas, which are limited to 65,000 per fiscal year (the “H-1B cap”). And of these, 6,800 are reserved for citizens of Chile and Singapore under certain free trade agreements, effectively leaving only 58,200 new H-1B visas for other foreign nationals.
Employees holding U.S. master’s degree or higher have a slight advantage. Congress carved out an exemption of 20,000 visas for this group (“master’s cap”). If a qualifying petition does not make the master’s cap, it gets a chance to compete for the 58,200 regular cap.
If the last five years are predictors, there will be at least twice as many applicants as available visas. In that case, the USCIS will stop accepting applications on April 6, 2018 and conduct a “lottery,” to randomly select applications for processing. The rest will be rejected and returned to the employers.
Instructions for filing H-1B cap petitions are found at the USCIS website. However, H-1B visas and our immigration system are complex. Consult a qualified immigration attorney now to simplify the process and map out a plan to hire or retain your valued foreign employees.
This information is provided as an educational service. If you need information about complex immigration rules that affect your ability to work in the U.S. you are invited to call me at 214-472-2161 or complete this contact request for a case evaluation.