On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, employers can begin submitting H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year 2015 for an employment start date of October 1, 2014.  It is expected that USCIS will receive a sufficient number of petitions within the first week to fill the 2015 quota allotment. It is also very likely that a lottery will be conducted to select the petitions that will be processed under the cap.

The H-1B visa category allows employers to temporarily employee foreign nationals who will work in "specialty occupations" or those jobs for which a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a particular field is required. Examples of H-1B qualifying occupations are mechanical engineers, civil engineers, architects, electrical engineers, teachers, accountants, pharmacists, physicians, and financial analysts. However, each year there is a limit on the number of H-1B visas available. The limit (or "cap" each year is 85,000 H-1B visas:  65,000 for bachelor-level candidates and 20,000 for advanced degree graduates of American universities. Last year, the H-1B cap was reached within the first week of the filing period. USCIS received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the one-week filing period. The demand for H-1B visas for fiscal year 2015 is expected to be even greater.

When USCIS receives more petitions than the number of available visas, USCIS conducts a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select which petitions will be accepted for further processing. Petitions not selected for further processing are returned to the employer. 

Because of the expected demand for H-1B visas, we advise employers to immediately begin preparing the H-1B petitions so that they are ready to file no later than April 1, 2014. The petitioning process involves several steps, including verifying the employer's FEIN with the Department of Labor (which can take a few days), obtaining an approved Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor (which takes at least one week), obtaining a US educational equivalency evaluation for foreign degrees, and preparing extensive paperwork for filing with USCIS.   If you have any questions regarding the H-1B visa category, please contact our immigration attorney, Roxi Liming at (614)488-2053.


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