Annual H-1B Visa Lottery: For employers who need to recruit foreign national talent for STEM or other hard-to-fill positions, an important immigration deadline is around the corner.
The electronic H-1B lottery application window began on 1st March and ends on 18th March 2022 at 12 noon EST / 9 am PST. If you want to have at least one applicant entered into the H-1B lottery, please let immigration counsel know by March 10th, 2022.
If the case is chosen, then immigration counsel would file a full H-1B petition with USCIS with an employment start date of October 1. This electronic lottery process allows immigration counsel to do a preliminary streamlined filing on your behalf. Also, employers no longer need to go “all-in” with a full petition filing up-front without knowing whether the petition has been accepted into the cap. This should result in substantial cost savings for employers.
Annual H-1B Visa Lottery
H-1Bs are for college-degreed professionals, such as software developers, engineers, scientists, and financial analysts. The yearly quota is 85,000 visas and demand is expected to be twice or three times that number.
Employers should verify whether they require such a visa for either a possible new hire. Or to keep a current foreign national employee work authorized who is on Optional Practical Training (OPT) or STEM OPT.
H-1Bs are great for three years and can be extended for an additional three years. However, they can be extended beyond year 6 as well if the company has sponsored the individual for permanent residency.
General H-1B Requirements
- Should have a college degree in a field related to the job offer.
- The position should be a specialty occupation. This is defined as an occupation that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty (or equivalent) as the minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.
- Also, the employer should agree with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) prevailing wage requirements and pay similar wages. As U.S. workers receive doing the same job or the prevailing wage, whichever is higher.
- Further, the foreign national can work for the sponsoring employer. Yet can transfer employment with a new H-1B visa petition filed by a subsequent employer.
- The initial H-1B petition filed for the first time for an individual is subject to a yearly quota of 85,000 visas. Also, the quota is quickly used up each year. Of the 85,000 visas, there are 20,000 visas saved for the people who have graduated with a U.S. masters or higher.
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- For an initial H-1B petition (where the foreign national has never been in H-1B status). The employer should file via the H-1B electronic lottery in March and show a start date of October 1. The quota is quite small compared to demand. Perhaps less than 50% of U.S. Masters get into the quota and 30% of bachelor-degree candidates.
- A first-time H-1B is subject to strict quotas. Moreover, H-1B transfers are excluded. Certain non-profit and university employers are exempt from the H-1B quota.
Prevailing Wage Requirements
The employer should pay the higher the prevailing wage or what other U.S. workers at the organization doing the same job are being paid. The U.S. Department of Labor distributes their wage study. Also, known as the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) online data center wage review at: http://flcdatacenter.com/