U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it reached the annual 85,000 H-1B visa cap in the first five days of April 2017. While USCIS has not yet announced the total number of H-1B petitions it received, we know that, once again, USCIS will conduct a computer-generated lottery in the coming weeks to determine which petitions they will process. Employers who have their petitions selected in the lottery will receive a receipt notice from USCIS, and if approved, can have their employees begin working for them in H-1B status on October 1, 2017. Petitions that are not selected in the lottery will be returned to the employers with their money back.
USCIS will continue, however, to accept H-1B petitions year-round from employers who are exempt from the H-1B cap, as well as petitions to extend the status of those currently in H-1B status or for those in H-1B status seeking to change employers.
While no more new H-1B visas will be available for employers and foreign nationals seeking to apply in 2017, many candidates may be eligible for other alternative visa options. The following visa categories are available throughout the year, without numerical caps, for qualifying foreign nationals:
For Canadian and Mexican citizens employed in certain professional categories seeking to engage in U.S. employment. Examples of qualifying TN professional occupations include, but are not limited to Engineer, Accountant, Architect, Computer Systems Analyst, Geologist, Geophysicist, Graphic Designer, Management Consultant, Scientific Technician, Engineering Technicians, and many occupations in the medical and allied health field.
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For intracompany transferees who have worked for a foreign entity for one year and are seeking to transfer to a U.S. subsidiary, affiliate, parent, or branch office in the U.S. in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity
For international investors or traders from certain treaty countries looking to engage in substantial trade between the U.S. and their foreign country or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the foreign national has invested. The E-1/E-2 visa is a great option for foreign entrepreneurs seeking to work in an essential capacity for their U.S. entity.
For foreign nationals of extraordinary ability who have achieved national and international recognition for extraordinary achievements in their field of endeavor.
For foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to engage in a course of training.
For Australian citizens who will be employed in a specialty occupation in the U.S. (similar requirements to the H-1B visa).
Watch these videos for additional information on these visas and to learn more about the eligibility requirements, and as always, if you have questions about the H-1B visa cap or any of these work visa options, please contact our office.