Companies seeking to employ foreign workers in the United States on a temporary basis often rely on the H-1B visa to accomplish their goals. The H-1B visa is reserved for professionals in a specialty occupation, which is defined as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor. Qualifying professions include architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical and social sciences, education, law, business specialties, and others that require a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent.
In recent years, U.S. employers have had difficulty obtaining H-1B visas because the annual allotment of 65,000 H-1B visas, plus the additional 20,000 visas designated to individuals with advanced degrees, have been exhausted within days or weeks of them becoming available. In 2016, for example, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced on April 7, just 6 days after the filing period began, it no longer would accept petitions for new H-1B employment because the annual allotment had been reached. In fact, over USCIS received nearly 233,000 petitions for H-1B visas, nearly three times over the allotted amount. USCIS again was forced to use a lottery to determine which petitions would be selected.
The next filing period begins April 1, 2017, for employment to begin October 1, 2017. Employers who may be in need of such specialty labor over the next several years must start the process immediately in order file the necessary paperwork by April 1. Although petitions may not be filed until April 1, the amount of preparation, interviewing, and document collection involved in the process necessitates advanced planning.
The St. Louis employment and immigration attorneys at McMahon Berger have been helping employers with their immigration needs for many years and are well-equipped to assist employers with preparing and submitting petitions for H-1B and other employment visas, including L-1 intracompany transfers and permanent residency. In addition, we routinely advise clients on employment verification issues, such as Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.