H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2017 that starts October 1, 2016 will be accepted beginning April 1, the USCIS announced last March 16.
More petitions than the H-1B cap of 65,000 are expected to be filed during the first five business days. So all the petitions received during that period will be subject to a computer-generated lottery system to randomly select the petitions required to meet the cap.
Last fiscal year, the USCIS received approximately 233,000 during the first five business days in April. The USCIS will notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met. Those not selected will be returned.
The first 20,000 H-1B petitions for individuals holding a US master’s degree or higher are exempted from the cap. Once this limit is reached, the petitions will be subjected to the regular cap.
Processing of H-1B petitions may be expedited through premium processing request on Form I-907. This may be filed concurrently with the H-1B petition. For a fee of $1,225, premium processing guarantees a fifteen calendar day processing of filed petitions from receipt of the request. This year the USCIS will start premium processing of H-1B petitions subject to cap no later than May 16.
Before the filing of an H-1B petition on Form I-129, the petitioner must file with the U.S. Department of Labor, a Labor Condition Application (LCA). The certified LCA must be filed with the Form I-129 petition.
To be classified as a specialty occupation for H-1B purposes, the occupation requires at least a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty or its equivalent. In order to be eligible for a specialty occupation, the beneficiary must have at least one of the following: (1) US bachelor or higher degree, (2) foreign degree equivalent to a US bachelor degree or higher, (3) an unrestricted license or certification to practice profession or (4) experience equivalent to completion of degree.
The H-1B petition must be accompanied by proof that the beneficiary is eligible for H-1B classification. Documentary evidence includes diploma, transcript of records, credentials evaluation and license to practice the profession, if required, among others.
The USCIS allows for the submission of other evidence if the degree has not been awarded yet but requirements for the degree have been met. The final transcript as well as a letter from the Registrar confirming that all degree requirements have been met may suffice.
A U.S. employer cannot file multiple H-1B petitions for the same beneficiary. Multiple H-1B petitions by a single employer for the same beneficiary will be rejected. However, related employers such as a principal and subsidiary may file for the same worker for different positions subject to other requirements. The H-1B beneficiary may work for more than one employer provided that each employer files a separate petition with the required labor condition application.
There is a base fee of $320 for an H-1B petition, an ACWIA fee of $750 or $1,500 depending on the number of employees of the employer and an anti-fraud fee of $500.
(Editor’s Note: REUBEN S. SEGURITAN has been practicing law for over 30 years. For more information, log on to www.seguritan.com or call 212-695-5281.)