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Let the Winter Games Begin! FY 2014 H-1B Season

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Let the Winter Games Begin! FY 2014 H-1B Season

January 16, 2014 | Tags: H-1B

The finish line: April 1-5, 2014

The prize: Approvals of new fiscal year H-1B visas (with requested H-1B start dates of October 1)

The international competitors: WSM clients and other companies who begin planning now

Only 65,000 new H-1B visas will be awarded this year, with an additional 20,000 for U.S. advanced degree graduates. All indications point to an H-1B lottery, similar to last year in which the number of petitions exceeded the cap within the first week of April. The government will accept H-1B requests as early as April 1, for start dates on October 1. By regulation, an H-1B lottery will include all petitions received within the first five days of April. The recent uptick in the economy should result in even more petitions filed than last April.

To qualify: WSM recommends employers identify all fiscal year candidates as soon as possible. For current clients, WSM has already begun this analysis. This includes:

  • Current employees holding post-completion practical training work authorization, particularly those EADs expiring before October 1, 2015
  • Overseas employees likely to be given a US assignment and for whom an L-1 visa may not be an option
  • L-1B visa holders who may not complete the greencard process before their 5 year maximum stay
  • TN visa holders who will begin the greencard process in the next 18 months
  • New college hires
  • Lateral H-1B hires from academic or nonprofit research institutions who were never counted against the cap

Like an Olympic figure skater, companies must begin preparation as early as possible to increase the likelihood of success. Before filing the H-1B petition, employers must obtain approval from the Department of Labor (DOL) of a Labor Condition Application (LCA). Currently the DOL is taking about 7 days to approve LCAs, but this processing time may increase as we get closer to April 1. In addition, your immigration counsel will need job descriptions, salary information and may need to obtain educational equivalency evaluations.

Lateral hires, meaning a candidate who already holds H-1B status working for a different employer, are not subject to the H-1B visa cap. Similarly, academic and nonprofit research institutions, and institutions associated with an institution of higher learning also are exempt. Employers should watch out for ski moguls when hiring H-1B workers from academia or research institutions – problem solve with counsel first to come up with workarounds.

The scandal: If Congress had been able to agree on immigration reform in 2013, we might have seen an increase in the H-1B quota. Unfortunately, the government's lack of action means that many hiring managers will be scrambling to fill jobs when a candidate they have already vetted is unable to win the H-1B visa lottery this year.

In parting: Strap on your helmets, jump on your bobsleds and get ready for the fast paced H-1B race to the finish line! Please contact WSM with any questions.

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