Fundamentals of Filing H-1B in FY 2017 Lottery

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Here are some basic points for those who are not familiar with the H-1B lottery process.

New visa petitions (non-immigrant workers) may be filed with the USCIS or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services starting April 1, 2016. The yearly cap for H1-B may be reached by the 1st week of April. It is anticipated that demand will exceed the quota. In this connection, USCIS will implement a lottery system to select petitions for processing. The April 1 filing date is not an assurance that Visas will be issued. Petitions not selected will be returned with filing fees.

This visa is an attractive option for employers not depending on short-term employment of foreign professionals. The category offers authorization for foreigners in specialty occupations. It is generally defined as a position calling for a minimum bachelor’s degree in specific academic fields.

US Congress set a new quota of 65, 000 visas for each fiscal year – October 1st to September 30. An extra 20, 000 (visas) are reserved for every fiscal year. This is for applicants with advanced degrees from US universities/colleges. The limitation does not include international degrees. Likewise, not all degrees obtained in the US are qualified. Section 101 (A), Higher Education Act (1965) states the school issuing the degree must meet the definition of institution of higher education.

The institution should be a public, non-profit institution. It must be legitimate, accredited or given pre-accreditation status by an accrediting association recognized nationwide or the education secretary. A private and unaccredited school is not regarded as an institution of higher education based on this law. The USCIS will conduct the lottery initially for petitions of advanced degree exemptions. Those not selected will also be included in the 65, 000 limit lottery. Last year (2015), petitions filed for the master’s quota began receiving notifications via email during the middle of April.

Each year, some petitions are filed promptly but are not included in the lottery due to incorrect filing. Bear in mind that being chosen is only the first step. It does not mean that the visa will be given approval right away. The USCIS officer will forward a request for additional requirements/documents once an application is chosen. This is called a Request for Evidence or RFE.

It is important to prepare early and be familiar with all the aspects of this H1-B procedure. This is meant to maximize the person’s chances that their H-1B petition. All Labor Condition Applications (LCA) must be submitted to the Labor Department by the start of March. Petitions must be filed on or prior to April 1, 2016. In other words, this is the right time to get ready for this application process. The whole procedure consists of putting together education credentials and relevant documents; writing and signing letters and forms; submitting the LCAs to the Department of labor. Said tasks will certainly entail a lot of time son see to it that you work on this right away.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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