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H-1B Visa Information for the 2017 Filing Season

In preparation for the upcoming filing season for H-1B visa petitions for the next Fiscal Year, we are providing the following information and Checklist so that you will have an understanding of important deadlines, documents, and fees that relate to the filing of petitions to obtain H-1B status for non-immigrant workers.

The H-1B “Cap”

Under federal law, the Immigration Service (USCIS) is only authorized to grant 65,000 H-1B visas per year to qualified non-immigrant workers. An additional 20,000 visas are available for individuals who have earned a master’s degree or higher from an accredited U.S. educational institution. Out of the above, 6,800 visas are set aside for citizens of Singapore and Chile as a result of a free trade agreement with those countries and the U.S. Collectively, this annual quota is known as the “Cap.” NOTE that ONLY foreign nationals who currently do not hold H-1B status are subject to the Cap. Thus, the Cap does not impact workers who currently hold H-1B status and are seeking extensions of status or a change in their H-1B employer.

The H-1B “Fiscal Year”

The Fiscal Year for issuing H-1B visas for the upcoming filing season will begin on October 1, 2016. This marks the first date of the 2017 Fiscal Year and is the earliest “start date” for a new worker seeking H-1B status. However, under the regulations, petitions for H-1B employees may be filed 6 months before the start date (of October 1, 2016) which is April 1, 2016. Last year (in 2015), USCIS received 233,000 H-1B petitions. Once these caps are reached, employers will not be able to file new cap-subject H-1B petitions until next year - April 1, 2017.

There is a significant amount of pre-filing preparation associated with the filing of H-1B petitions, including but not limited to: reviewing employer and employee documents for H-1B eligibility and suitability, determining the working conditions and the prevailing wage for the subject position, and, if applicable, obtaining translations of employee credentials and academic credentials evaluations. Note also that a sponsoring employer must first file and obtain approval of an ETA 9035 Labor Conditions Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor before filing the H-1B petition. As this will take time (approximately 7-10 days), we strongly encourage employers to start planning now for their H-1B cap season needs in order to ensure that a complete petition is ready for filing with USCIS on April 1, 2016.

Employer Documents and Information:

❏ Documentation or evidence concerning the Employer’s business operations

(Name and address of the company, informational brochures, advertising, etc.)

❏ Name and job title of the person who will sign the petition on behalf of the employer

❏ Employer Federal Tax I.D. Number

❏ The Year that the Employer was established

❏ Approximate number of employees

❏ Approximate gross and net annual income

❏ The Job Title of the H-1B beneficiary

❏ A detailed Job Description for the beneficiary

❏ The Salary offered to the beneficiary

Employee (Beneficiary) Documents and Information:

❏ Copy of the Beneficiary’s CV or Resume

❏ Copy of the Beneficiary’s academic credentials (ie. Degrees and Certifications)

❏ Copy of the Beneficiaries academic Transcripts

❏ Copies of letters verifying previous experience of the Beneficiary Employee in the area of intended employment.

❏ Copy of any professional or occupational licenses held by the Beneficiary

❏ Copy of professional development course certificates

❏ Original Academic Credentials Evaluation of the Beneficiary’s academic credentials

❏ Copy of Biographic section of Beneficiary’s Passport, with copies of all previously issued United States Visas and entry stamps from previous visits to the U.S. (if any).

* NOTE: ALL FOREIGN LANGUAGE DOCUMENTS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A CERTIFIED TRANSLATION.

ATTORNEY’S FEES and FILING FEES:

Fees that must be paid by the EMPLOYER:

■ Attorneys Fees for H-1B Petition = $2,500

■ Filing Fee for I-129 = $325

■ Fraud Detection Fee = $500

■ ACWIA Fee = $750 if the petitioner employer has 25 or less employees, OR

$1,500 if petitioner employer has more than 25 employees

Fees that may be paid by the H-1B EMPLOYEE:

■ I-907 Premium Processing Fee (Optional) = $1,225

This optional expedited processing service guarantees a response within 15 calendar days. This means that USCIS will issue: (1) an approval notice; (2) a denial notice; (3) a notice of intent to deny; or (4) a request for additional evidence within the 15 calendar day period.

For a consultation with South Florida Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel, call (954) 385-3111 or e-mail: sean@hummelaw.com.