U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Issues H-1B Visa Timetable
Many U.S. technology companies use the H-1B visa program to hire foreign workers with highly specialized knowledge in fields like science and engineering. On April 1, 2014, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began to accept H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2015 cap.
According to a USCIS press release, the congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for FY 2015 is 65,000. H-1B applicants with degrees from U.S. educational institutions have a slight advantage, since the first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from this cap. Because of the high demand for H-1B visas, the USCIS anticipates that both caps will be reached by April 7th. For the first time since 2008, the USCIS predicts that it may need to conduct a lottery. The USCIS also notes the following:
- Cases are officially accepted only when the USCIS receives a properly filed petition with the correct fee, not when an application was postmarked.
- The USCIS recommends that H-1B petitioners make sure they follow all requirements to avoid processing delays and possible requests for evidence.
- The USCIS provides a wealth of information, including a checklist, to assist petitioners in completing and submitting their FY 2015 H-1B petition at www.uscis.gov.
The USCIS has adjusted its schedule for when it will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases, announcing that it will commence processing no later than April 28, 2014. Premium processing is only available for certain employment-based petitions, and Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, must be filed in addition to Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. The USCIS guarantees a 15-calendar-day processing time for premium processing.
If you have questions about H-1B visas, or any other immigration issue, contact an attorney in Washington, D.C. with extensive immigration law experience.