On Tuesday April 1, 2014, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will begin accepting new H-1B petitions for the 2015 fiscal year, with a start date of October 1, 2014. The cap was reached almost instantly last year. With increased demand for H-1B visas expected in 2014, employers who plan to petition for a foreign worker under H-1B should begin the process early to be ready to file on March 31, 2014.
The 2013 H-1B Season
Last year, the statutory H-1B cap of 65,000 was reached within the first week of opening their doors to cap-subject H-1B petitions. With nearly 124,000 H-1B petitions filed, USCIS implemented a computerized random selection process, called the “lottery” to select the lucky 65,000 cap subject and 20,000 advanced degree H-1B petitions for filing. Last year, the regular cap-subject petitions had a 62.5 percent chance of being selected. Those H-1B petitions that were not selected were rejected and returned, along with the filing fees, to the petitioners.
Increased Demand for H-1B Visas in 2014
It is certain that demand for H-1B visas will be even higher this year for two big reasons. First, the Federal Reserve is predicting good growth in the job market in 2014. The correlation between the job market and H-1B visas is impossible to ignore. When the unemployment rate was nearly 10 percent in 2010, the cap wasn’t reached until November. As the unemployment rates have slowly gone down since then, the cap has been reached earlier each year. Last year, the unemployment rate was averaging around 7.7 percent when the cap was reached. The Federal Reserve forecasts a healthy job market with an unemployment rate as low as 6.4 percent in 2014. Thus, demand for H-1B visas will be even higher this year.
In addition to the improving job market, employers have not been able to file for new H-1B workers since April of last year. Thus, the demand has been building for almost a year. With nearly 39,000 H-1B petitions rejected last year, there are thousands of people ready to try their luck again in 2014. Taking this into consideration, employers seeking to file a new H-1B petition in 2014 must be ready to file when USCIS opens the door in April.
USCIS will begin accepting new H-1B petitions for FY 2015 on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Petitions received before April 1 will be rejected. All petitions received between April 1 and April 7, 2014 will be treated the same for the purposes of counting petitions against the cap. Since the cap is again expected to be reached within that seven-day window, cap-subject H-1B petitions received by USCIS after April 7 will probably be rejected. Employers hoping to petition for foreign workers under the H-1B program should begin preparing their H-1B petitions now in order to be certain their petition is received within that window.
Employers should contact an experienced immigration attorney immediately to begin the petition process. Gathering and assembling the required evidence takes time. In addition, because of the increased demand for H-1B visas this year, there will likely be a flood of labor condition applications (LCAs) being filed at the beginning of 2014, causing the Department of Labor to be slower in processing applications. There is additional concern that another government shutdown could occur in mid-January, at the same time as this surge of LCA filings, if Congress again fails to agree on a federal budget. Filing your LCA early may be the determining factor in having your H-1B petition ready to be mailed on March 31.
The lottery works the same each time it is implemented. The advanced-degree petitions are placed in the lottery first in order to select the 20,000 winners of the advanced degree cap exempt petitions. Then, the advanced-degree petitions that were not selected under the first lottery are placed in the second lottery with the regular cap petitions, where 65,000 petitions will be selected for filing.
The H-1B season is full of risks. Why add more? The attorneys at the Law Firm of Shihab & Associates have collectively filed thousands of H-1B petitions. You will feel confident and secure when one of our experienced attorneys handles your H-1B petition. Contact us today to begin the H-1B petition process.