H-1B cap-subject petitions will be accepted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on April 1st. The H-1B category is one of the United States’ key nonimmigrant options for professional workers.
It is universally anticipated that the agency will receive more applications than the 85,000 available slots. Last year, the agency received approximately 172,000 applications in the first week of April. Lotteries have been held the past few years, and almost assuredly there will be one again this year, with even worst odds than last year.
Now is the time to begin (or finish) preparation of H-1B applications for the April 1st deadline. If you are a U.S. employer considering bringing a non-citizen on staff, we suggest that you schedule a consultation in the next week or two, just so the H-1B is available for discussion. Please note that even if a petition is accepted in the lottery, and then approved, the earliest possible start date will be October 1st.
Employers may also want to consider other alternatives to the H-1B for key personnel, including E-1 and E-2 visas (Treaty trader/Treaty Investor), O visas (extraordinary alien), L visas (intracompany transfer), E-3 (Australian professional), and TNs (NAFTA workers for Canadian and Mexican professionals). Additionally, in some cases, it may make more sense to apply directly for permanent residence based either on a labor certification or on the career achievements of the applicant.