Business workshop: Don’t delay in preparing H-1B applications
March 7, 2017 12:22 AM
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
Employers looking to hire foreign employees have no choice but to treat this year’s H-1B visa application process the same as in the past, which means submitting the application the first day U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services accepts them — the first business day of April.
By Gary M. Sanderson
Various factors may affect the H-1B visa program this year, including potential changes by the new administration and a pending lawsuit related to H1-B visa lottery procedures.
Despite the potential for change, employers looking to hire foreign employees have no choice but to treat this year’s application process the same as in the past, which means submitting the application the first day U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services accepts them — the first business day of April.
An H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers temporarily in specialty occupations for which it is difficult to find a suitable U.S. citizen.
There is an annual cap of 65,000 for foreign national employees holding the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree, and an additional 20,000 visas available for employees with a U.S. Master’s degree or higher.
Because of increased demand, the government agency has conducted a lottery to select applications for H-1B eligibility over the past several years. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will announce how many days following April 3 it will accept applications for Oct. 1 start dates. Last year, the agency received nearly 236,000 applications.
Companies must carefully prepare their applications, as the government has increased its scrutiny. Many employers have legal counsel help to develop detailed explanations of why the employee qualifies for an H-1B visa.
Every H-1B application requires a labor condition application certified by the U.S. Department of Labor. If an employer has not previously filed such an application, it may take additional time for the labor department to verify the employer’s federal employer identification number. Employers must therefore get an early start on the application process, while continuing to monitor the pending H-1B lottery lawsuit and actions of the executive branch.
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