If your company is thinking of sponsoring a foreign national employee or new hire for H-1B work authorization this year, it’s time to get started. Last year, employers filed 124,000 petitions for 85,000 available visas. The H-1B filing window was only open for one week before the visas were gone. One out of three employers was disappointed and their employee had to make other plans for work authorization or leave the U.S. Our Immigration Services unit processes H-1B petitions for members as a fee-based service. They are organizing their FY2015 filings now and ask all interested members to contact them as soon as possible.
The April 1 filing deadline applies to almost all H-1B petitions for workers who will start H-1B status on October 1, 2014. Certain employers like institutions of higher education and governmental or nonprofit research organizations are cap-exempt, and may file at any time.
The number of H-1B petitions filed is expected to exceed the number of visas available again this year and into the future. Therefore, even if your employee has work authorization that extends beyond October 1, 2014, you may need to petition now to maximize the chances that the employee will get an H-1B visa during his or her authorized time in the U.S.
Processing an H-1B petition requires a separate filing with the U.S. Department of Labor before filing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A complete record describing the position, the employer, and the foreign national along with his or her credentials and U.S. immigration history must be assembled. Thus, you need to allow several weeks of lead-time for the petition to be prepared.
A special work authorization is available to foreign graduates of U.S. educational institutions known as Optional Practical Training (OPT), which expires before the October 1, 2014 start date. These individuals may be eligible for an automatic extension known as the “cap gap.” Check with our Immigration Services staff on whether your employee is eligible.
Our staff is always available to answer your questions about H-1Bs and other immigration matters. If this is an area of keen interest, join us for a special briefing session on H-1B sponsorship and the filing process on January 28, 2014. We will review the obligations affecting H-1B employers, whether you are just now hiring the employee or have employed him or her for a while. Attend by webinar or in-person at our Denver offices. Click here to learn more and to register.