Act Fast: H-1B Filing Season is Approaching (and Another Lottery is Expected)

Angela M. Jenkins, Michael E. Wooley

Employers seeking H-1B visas for foreign workers must act quickly. Due to an expected lottery for the limited H-1Bs available, employers should plan to file petitions on April 1 – the first day of the H-1B filing season. These H-1Bs will be effective for employment beginning on October 1, 2016.

Last year, Citizenship and Immigration Services received nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions and was forced to hold a random lottery among those petitions received during the first five days of the filing period. A similar scenario is expected this year. Only 85,000 new H-1Bs are available.

H-1B status permits a foreign national to work in the United States for up to six years in a specialty occupation, which includes engineers, IT professionals, scientists and other occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree.

The H-1B cap applies only to brand new H-1B petitions, with a few exceptions. Employers should consider filing an H-1B in the following circumstances:

  • The employer wants to hire, or continue to employ, a recent university graduate who is in the United States working pursuant to Optional Practical Training.
  • The employer has a potential candidate who is currently working abroad and has no US work authorization.
  • The employer wants to hire, or continue to employ, a person who is currently working in the United States in TN or L-1B status, both of which have certain limitations, making the H-1B a better choice in some circumstances.

After the cap is reached, no more H-1Bs will be available until October 2017. We encourage employers to act quickly.

For additional information, please contact Angela M. Jenkins (616.752.2480 or or Michael E. Wooley (989.698.3715 or at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.