Happy New Year! It’s never too early to start preparing for the H-1B Cap for Fiscal Year 2018, and our immigration attorneys are happy to aid your in the process. Demand for the H-1B visa has steadily increased over the years; last year for instance, only about 36% of the H-1B petitions were selected in the lottery. Employers should expect this trend to continue and be prepared to file their H-1B petitions on the earliest possible date, which is April 3, 2017 this year.
The H-1B is a significant visa category as it allows qualified professionals to enter the U.S. for employment in a specialty occupation. Due to the ever-increasing demand for the visa, it is important the employers evaluate their employee populations early to ensure that all petitions are submitted by the earliest possible date. Some of the different types of employees eligible for H-1B visas are F-1 Students and L-1B visa holders.
Students, particularly those on F visas, currently working for you pursuant to an approved Optional Practical Training (OPT) should be the first group of employees to consider for filing an H-1B petition. The reason being that if you do not file H-1Bs for these employees, they will lose their employment authorization at the conclusion of their OPT. Even when employees may extend their OPT, the employer is still advised to file an H-1B for the 2018 fiscal year, giving the employees two opportunities to obtain the H-1B. In the event that more applications are filed than visas available and student employees do not obtain the H-1B this year, then the OPT extension will serve as a back-up and the employer may file for the H-1B again next year.