U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting new H-1B visa applications for FY 2016 on April 1, 2015. U.S. employers who wish to employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations can start preparing their applications now as that will help them to file timely H-1B visa applications. Under the H-1B visa program, 65,000 nonimmigrant visas are being issued every year to those with bachelor’s degrees and 20,000 visas to those with master’s degrees.
The H-1B visa program is meant for foreign nationals with bachelor’s degrees or master’s degrees and specialized skills. Foreign workers cannot apply for H-1B visas for themselves; they need to be sponsored for visas by U.S. employers. To qualify for an H-1B non-immigrant visa, a foreign national must have a job offer in the U.S. and that employer who is offering the job must be willing to sponsor that worker for this nonimmigrant visa. Eligible dependents of H-1B visa holders can get H-4 nonimmigrant visas.
USCIS at times receives more visa applications than visas available under the quota. Whenever the agency receives more number of petitions, it chooses applications for review through a computer operated lottery system. Many believe that USCIS will receive more number of H-1B visa applications this year too. In order to avoid the last minute hassle, employers need to begin the application process as soon as possible. They can start reviewing possible employees and start making the required government filings, that includes filing applications for labor certification, now.
It is important to file applications for these nonimmigrant visas sooner because USCIS will stop accepting applications once it reaches the quota. In the previous years, the filing season lasted only for five working days. Once the agency selects applications, it will start reviewing them and start issuing H-1B visas to eligible foreign nationals in October 2015. The odds of being selected will be more for those who file their applications first. So it is recommended to file an H-1B visa application on the very first day the agency starts accepting applications.