The New Year is upon us. For companies seeking to hire high-skilled international workers, it means the start of the FY2018 H-1B filing season. The filing period for H-1B cap subject petitions opens on April 1 of each year for work beginning on Oct. 1, the start of the government’s fiscal year. In 2016, the government received over 236,000 for the approximately 85,000 available cap subject H-1Bs. H-1B petitions must be received within five business days starting April 3, 2017 in order to be considered for processing. Petitions will be randomly selected for processing. Below are some pro-tips to help you get ready.
Select and communicate with your immigration counsel as early as possible. Starting early is the best way to ensure timely filing. Your immigration lawyer will ask you to provide extensive information and documentation from the employer and the employee. Have company information collected and ready to provide to your lawyer. Here is some of the mandatory information you should have prepared:
For small and new businesses:
For employers who will be placing their employees at other worksites, the employer should provide service agreements for the employee to work at the offsite location. The employer will also need to provide documentary evidence that the offsite employee will be under the control and supervision of the employer. The employer may also need to provide documentation evidencing that there is sufficient work available for the worker.
To Pay or Not to Pay: Is Premium Processing Worth It
Paying the additional fee for premium processing may be worth the price. The premium processing program offers adjudication or action taken on a case within 15 days of receipt. In the past, USCIS did not offer premium processing for cap subject H-1B petitions. In recent years, USCIS has allowed payment of premium processing on cap subject petitions.
There are a few reasons why paying for premium processing may be worth the additional cost.
First, premium processing applications are notified whether the H-1B petition has been selected for processing first. If the case isn’t selected for processing, no fees will be charged. Under normal processing, an official notice of selection may not arrive until mid-May.
Second, knowing whether the petition has been selected for processing early can also help the employer prepare for contingency situations like obtaining a timely OPT STEM extension for the employee.
Third, the case will be adjudicated sooner. This is important if the employee will need to travel outside the United States and consular process. Under normal processing times, approval may not be received until late Aug. or Sept. and delay the employee from starting work on the intended date.
Prepare for the STEM Extension
Many employers will be filing H-1B petitions for international students employed under the Optional Practical Training Program (OPT). In 2016, less than 40 percent of H-1B cap-subject petitions were selected for processing. Given the low likelihood of petition selection, it is important for employers to take advantage of the 24-month extension available for OPT holders who are STEM graduates of U.S. institutions of higher education. To take advantage of the 24-month STEM OPT extension, the following must apply before the student’s existing OPT expires:
It is never too early to be prepared for the H-1B filing season. Reach out to your immigration attorney regarding your H-1B filing as soon as possible.