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January 30, 2017

H-1B Season - It's That Time of Year Again

Spring is fast approaching and with that, the nation-wide competition for a coveted H-1B visa lies ahead.

The annual H-1B filing season is set to commence this year on April 3rd, which is the first business day of the month. That is the day that U.S. employers can again file petitions with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request H-1B status on behalf of foreign nationals who are subject to the annual H-1B visa cap. If approved, the foreign employees will be permitted to commence work in the United States in H-1B status on October 1, 2017.

Every year, thousands of American employers utilize the H-1B visa as a way to recruit and retain talented foreign national employees. The H-1B visa allows non-citizens who possess the educational equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree to work in a "specialty occupation". Common specialty occupations include engineers, teachers, lawyers, accountants, and physicians.

Under U.S. immigration law, USCIS may accept only 65,000 cap-subject H-1B visa petitions each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 available for individuals who have earned advanced degrees (Master's degrees or higher) from U.S. institutions of higher education. Once enough petitions have been received to reach the annual limit, USCIS cannot accept any more cap-subject H-1B petitions for that fiscal year.

Since USCIS typically receives thousands more petitions than the allotted total of 85,000 during that first week of H-1B season, the cases are placed into a random lottery system. Each petition is either accepted for adjudication by lottery or rejected and returned to the employer without review.

All indications point to an upcoming H-1B season that will be as busy and chaotic as ever. Thus far in the new Administration, there have been no substantive or procedural changes to the H-1B program.

With just about 2 months to go before the April 3rd opening day, the time is right for any U.S. employer that is considering employment for a foreign professional to immediately seek assistance from an experienced immigration practitioner to determine strategy and timing with respect to an H-1B submission. The Immigration team at Barclay Damon, LLP is ready to assist with all of your U.S. immigration needs, particularly when it comes to the H-1B visa category. We are well versed in the nuances of the H-1B program and have vast experience in preparing and filing these petitions.

If you have any questions with respect to the information in this alert, please contact Jill Apa at (716) 844-7070 or or our Immigration Practice Area Chair Eileen Martin at (716) 566-1421 or


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