As you may know, the filing window for the H1b quota for the fiscal year 2015 will open on Tuesday, April 1st\ 2014. Each year, the government allocates 85,000 H1bs for employees who have never previously had an H1b filed on their behalf. Of these, 20,000 are set aside for holders of US Master’s degrees, and this is referred to as the “Master’s cap.” It is important to note that in order to qualify for the Master’s cap, the US Master’s program must be either a public or non-profit university and it must be accredited.
WHEN WILL THE QUOTA CLOSE THIS YEAR?
Four years ago, we saw the quota close in January of the following year. Three years ago, we saw it close in November and two years ago, it closed in June. This past year, it closed in the first week after having received 124,000 petitions for 85,000 spots.
Over the past two years, we have seen large consulting companies, who are experiencing numerous L1A and L1B denials, file large numbers of H1bs for their L employees in order to avoid disruption on their projects. As the L1 denials increase, so will the number of H1bs that these companies file when the filing window opens. For this reason, we are advising clients to file their cases on the first possible day (April 1, 2014) and to expect a lottery situation again.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
If the employee has already had an H1b approved on their behalf within the last six years, they are likely to be exempt from the quota unless they received an H1b from a cap-exempt employer like a non-profit or university. Most candidates for the H-1B quota are students on OPT, people overseas who have never had an H1b approved on their behalf, or spouses here in the US who are looking to obtain their first H1b.
Based on recent USCIS trends, the candidate must have at a minimum of either a US bachelor’s degree or the foreign equivalent in a field that is directly relevant to the position. The USCIS has recently cracked down on those who have a bachelor’s degree in a field that is not relevant to the position that the petitioner has filed for. A candidate holding a degree that is not directly relevant to the offered position can still be viewed as eligible, if they have about 3 to 6 years of documented experience in a relevant field as they can get an education evaluation that incorporates their experience and education. If you are not sure if you or a candidate, in the case of an employer, meets the requirements for an H1b, we suggest speaking with an immigration attorney before committing yourself to the process.
WHAT WILL I NEED TO PROVIDE?
In order to have a successful H1b filing, it is important that you have certain evidence for the filing. The USCIS will want to see that the Beneficiary has the education that is required for the H1b, and that the field of study is relevant to the position. The USCIS will also want to see that the position itself qualifies as a specialty occupation and that the Petitioner has non-speculative work for the Beneficiary. Further, the USCIS will evaluate all of the evidence to make sure that there is a valid employer/employee relationship present for the requested validity period. If you are not sure what evidence is required, we highly suggest speaking with an immigration attorney.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
The H1b government filing fees are as such:
• I-129 fee- $325
• Fraud Prevention and Detection fee- $500
• ACWIA fee
o If Petitioner employs 25 or less full-time W2s- $750
o If Petitioner employs 26+ full-time W2s- $1,500
• If the Petitioner employs 50 or more full-time W2s and over 50% are in H1b or L1 status, there is an additional $2,000 filing fee
• If you choose to use premium processing- $1,225
• If the Beneficiary has a spouse and they must file an H4 application for them, the filing fee is $290.