Deadline for Coveted H-1B Visas Fast Approaching

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The first week of April 2018 will be the last chance to participate in the annual H-1B Professional Visa program in its current iteration. Jim Mayock of E&M Mayock and Associates and a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law, recommends that documents be filed by March 16th, 2018 to process H-1B paperwork in time.

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The last date to file for an H-1B Visa is coming up soon. The process takes about two weeks to complete.

The first week of April 2018 will be the last chance to participate in the annual H-1B Professional Visa program in its current iteration. Next year, the Trump administration has indicated it plans to change the program completely. If you still plan to file for an H-1B visa, either for yourself or for one of your employees, you need to act fast to get the documents processed in time.

“Due to this administration's approach to immigration, the H-1B program will likely undergo major changes next year,” says Jim Mayock, Managing Partner of E&M Mayock, a leading San Francisco immigration law firm. “Those who seek to stay in the US on an H-1B visa should have their petition filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on April 1st, 2018. Time is running out.”

According to the U.S. Department of State, China and India received 82 percent of all H-1B visas issued in 2016. The H-1B visa was originally instituted in the 1950s to offer skilled foreign workers an opportunity to work legally in the United States. The program was amended in the 1990s to include a requirement for a bachelor’s degree or higher, or skilled work in a specialized field, and to allow foreign workers to apply for permanent residency (a green card) while maintaining their temporary resident status.

Initially, no more than 65,000 H-1B visas were offered per year. However, as technology related industry grew in the United States, and employers had difficulty recruiting workers skilled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the cap on available visas was raised, until in 2001 it stood at 195,000.

The current annual quota of new H-1B visas stands at 85,000 and is highly coveted. Many more applications are filed than accepted. In 2016, there were 236,000 applications filed, and 200,000 in 2017.

USCIS uses a random, luck-based lottery of all applications that are received in the first 5 business days to determine which petitions will be considered for visa petition approval. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent have a 20-25% chance of selection in the lottery. Those with advanced degrees, such as Masters’ or PhDs, have an 80%+ chance of selection.

Many people do not realize that processing the paperwork before submission to USCIS requires at least a two-week lead time. Mayock cautions applicants, “The last date to file for an H-1B Visa is coming up soon. Forms and documents have to be reviewed, revised and certified and this process takes about two weeks to complete.” E&M Mayock has already begun their H-1B CAP case processing, and they stress that now is the time for an applicant to complete their paperwork. “To properly prepare an H-1B petition, it’s important that our office receive documents by Friday, March 16th, 2018.”

For many foreign workers, this year may be their last chance to obtain an H-1B visa. There is a sense of urgency as this year’s deadline approaches. The immigration debate rages on, and windows of opportunity are closing. One thing is certain: conditions can change quickly in this highly charged, political environment. If you or an employee needs to file for an H-1B visa, time is of the essence.

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Roxana Moolla
Pryme Group
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