Companies that have hired talent from overseas, or are considering doing so, need to consider now whether the H-1B visa is right for their organizations. The April 1 deadline for the “H-1B filing season” is approaching. This year, as in years past, there is an allotment of 65,000 H-1B visas, plus an additional 20,000 H-1B visas allotted to graduates of U.S. Master's programs.

HR and talent management directors and recruiters should consider:

  • whether they have F-1 employees working on Optional Practical Training (OPT) whom they wish to convert to H-1B status;
  • whether they have TN or E-3 workers whom they wish to convert to H-1B status;
  • whether they had H-1B candidates who missed the quota last year;
  • whether their company is registered for E-Verify and their F-1 employees graduated with a degree in the sciences, technology, engineering or mathematics;
  • whether they have identified a qualified candidate who requires a visa to work in the U.S.

Last year, the cap was filled in just five days. It is likely to be filled just as quickly this year. Companies should note that the H-1B cap does not apply to individuals who are currently working in the U.S. on H-1B visas; or individuals who previously held H-1B visas but are now in a different visa classification or are working outside the U.S., provided that they have not exhausted the six-year limitation on their initial H-1B term. 

Please note: this is general information and does not replace legal counsel based on your particular situation. Shirley Tang heads CTSW's corporate immigration practice.