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USCIS Will Accept H-1B Applications on April 1

Every April, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services accepts H-1B applications. Learn more about this process.

On April 1, 2016 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting H-1B petitions (applications) for the 2017 fiscal year.

A H-1B is a visa that allows foreign nationals to work in the United States. For an international student who just completed Optional Practical Training (OPT), this is most likely the visa he/she would need in order to keep working in the United States.

H-1B visas allow employers to hire foreign workers in occupations that usually require highly specialized knowledge, for example science, engineering, and computer programming. But H-1Bs can certainly be approved for other fields as well.

There is a limit, however, on how many H-1B visas USCIS awards each year. There is a cap of 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for those with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap. So, in total there are 85,000 H-1Bs assigned to foreign workers each year.

It has been consistent each year USCIS receives way more applications than visas available. USCIS expects they will┬áreceive a surplus of applications within five business days of opening applications. They will monitor applications as they come in and will decide when to stop taking applications. It will then use a computer-generated lottery system to randomly select those who will receive the H-1B. And even when a person is selected, USCIS will still check to make sure the applicant’s education and background is consistent with the position he/she is looking to fill at the company.

Learn more about the H-1B Program

Our best advice: if you are considering applying for an H-1B visa, this is a conversation you need to have with your current/future employer. There are costs for the employer to file an H-1B petition. The actual costs depends on the employer, some examples include:

  • Base filing fee: $325
  • Employers with 1-25 full time employees (unless exempt): $750
  • Employers with 26 or more full-time employees (unless exempt): $1,500
  • Fraud prevention and detection fee: $500
  • Public Law 114-113 fee: $4,000 (who employ 50 or more employees in the U.S. and more than 50 percent are in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status)
  • Premium processing fee: $1,225 (helps get the application through sooner)

As you can see, there is a good amount of money, time, and dedication it takes to file an H-1B. This is a conversation you need to have early, though it can be uncomfortable.

We also recommend taking a look at employers who are EXEMPT FROM THE H-1B CAP. So we just said there are only 85,000 H-1Bs, right? Well, if your company is a non-profit they are exempt from the cap. AND they don’t have to wait until April 1 to apply for the H-1B, they can apply at ANY TIME. A perfect example of a non-profit is a university or college.

Do you still have questions about H-1B visas? OPT? Comment below!

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