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 ajenkins@wnj.com) or Michael E. Wooley (989.698.3715 or mwooley@wnj.com) at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.