On April 1, 2016, the filing period will begin for new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (H-1B cap) for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2016. We strongly encourage employers to begin determining now which of their current or future employees will require H-1B status.
In years past, annual limits on H-1B visas have created a surge of petitions filed on the first day they become available. There are only 65,000 visas available per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 set aside for those who have graduated from Master's Degree Programs in the United States. Last year, the annual limit was exceeded within the first days of filing. This resulted in a computer-generated lottery for available visa numbers.
H-1B visas are the most common temporary work permits available to foreign national professionals. A U.S. employer can file an H-1B petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of a foreign employee provided that the job requires (and the employee possesses) at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in a particular field. An H-1B employer also must attest to paying the same salary and benefits packages normally offered U.S. workers in similar positions and to observing the H-1B program's specific public notice and recordkeeping requirements.
We anticipate that for this coming year the H-1B cap will be reached the first week of April 2016 for this coming filing season.
If you are contemplating sponsorship of a foreign national for an H-1B visa this year, it is in your best interest to begin preparing immediately since the visas may not be available for very long.