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FY 2015 H-1B Countdown Tips

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FY 2015 H-1B Countdown Tips

March 13, 2014 | Tags: H-1B

FY H-1B "March Madness" spills well into April this year. By regulation, the USCIS must accept FY H-1B cases the first five business days starting April 1 and then hold a lottery as applicable. What this means for this year: cases receipted in at the USCIS as late as Monday, April 7 can be eligible for the much anticipated lottery. As we work with our clients to prepare strong filings, anticipating that this year chances for securing a FY H-1B visa number may reach an historical low of one in three for regular Bachelor's cases, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Expect a slowdown from the Department of Labor in processing Labor Condition Applications – 7 day adjudications may morph closer to the 10 day mandatory period.
  • Good news for your employees on F-1 OPT work authorization which is expiring soon: as long as an employer files a FY H-1B case for an employee whose F-1 work authorization is expiring even in April, the employer can keep the employee on payroll until it hears from the USCIS whether or not the case secured one of the limited H-1B numbers. ICE and SEVP guidance provides that cap gap extension for employment for F-1 holders, which starts the date the student's original OPT expires and ends Sept. 30. For lottery losers, the employment authorization ends upon the date of notification that the case was not selected by the lottery. Employers would then need to take the employee off payroll, but the employee would have a 60 day grace period.
  • Start thinking of back up plans for lottery losers– this may mean enrolling in e-Verify to obtain an additional 17 month work authorization for employees with US STEM degrees; or placing the F-1 employee abroad if possible.
  • Important! Contact your Representatives in Congress and urge them to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year, and in the interim, a good faith, temporary 3 year raise in FY H-1B numbers like was done in 2000, so employers and employees are not left out in the lurch.

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