I’m sure most of you are aware of the troubling events of this weekend. The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States left a lot of unanswered questions about America’s immigration programs, including the H-1B visa. However, the executive order released this weekend shows he intends to double down on the promises he made on the campaign trail, which included his opposition to the H-1B program. We should be braced for changes in immigration policy that may impact a lot of foreign workers and their employers in the United States, who represent a major part of the U.S. workforce.
However, myself and immigration attorneys across the country are continuing to prepare for one of the most important days of the year — the first business day of April. This year falls on April 3, 2017, when we will begin filing H-1B visa applications on behalf of our clients for the coming fiscal year.
The H-1B visa is eligible to foreign workers who are in a “specialty occupation,” meaning one that requires highly specialized knowledge attained through a Bachelor’s Degree (or equivalent) in a specific field of study as entry into the occupation. Examples of specialty occupations include architecture, engineering, mathematics, computer science, accounting, and business, but there are many more. Empirical evidence shows that H-1B workers complement U.S. workers, fill gaps in many STEM occupations, and expand job opportunities for all.
There are a number of positive features of the H-1B visa. For example, H-1B visa holders are permitted to have dual intent (the intent to remain permanently in the U.S.) and extensions past the sixth year may be possible while certain employment based green cards are pending. However, one of the largest draw-backs of the H-1B visa is the current annual numerical limit of 65,000 allotted for each fiscal year. In 6 of the last 10 fiscal years, this limit has been reached in the first five business days of April, triggering a random selection process to be conducted among those received and properly filed in those days, commonly referred to as the H-1B “lottery.”
As such, it is imperative to have all H-1B applications prepared and assembled by a knowledgeable immigration attorney well before April 3rd to ensure that the application is among those eligible for selection.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the H-1B visa, feel free to contact our office to set up a free consultation to discuss H-1B visa eligibility in greater detail.