Every year, thousands of hopeful skilled workers hold their breaths for the H-1B visa process starting April 1st of every year. When the economy is good, like the one we are in right now at the time of writing (4/6/14), there are likely more workers seeking H-1B visas than the quota and the USCIS resorts to a lottery system in which only luck determines if a foreigner can stay and work in America. When the economy is bad, although it would be hard to get jobs, the H-1b visa quota does not get filled and everyone who applies have one. This is a catch-22 situation for hopeful foreigners who want to stay in America and earn the high wages that they cannot possibly obtain in their home country doing the same job.
This year, without exception, the USCIS published a general guideline outlining the H-1B visa process on their website in the News section: http://www.uscis.gov/news/uscis-accept-h-1b-petitions-fiscal-year-2015-beginning-april-1-2014
What the USCIS has outlined is the following (which should not come as a shock for anyone):
- Start date of accepting H-1B visa applications: April 1, 2014
- Congressional mandated cap: 65,000 ( meaning only 65,000 visas will be issued, regardless of how many applications)
- Advanced Degrees (individuals with a US Master’s Degree) cap: 20,000 (the first 20,000 advanced degree holders are not subjected to the 65,000 cap)
- USCIS reports that they anticipate more applications than visas for this year.
- The final deadline to file H-1B applications: April 7, 2014
- A random lottery selection process will be used if more applications are received than available visas
- A high level of premium processing applications is anticipated (this is a guaranteed 15 calendar day processing for approved/selected applications)
- USCIS recommends filing ASAP to avoid delay or simply missing the entire lottery and visa process for FY2015
There are also a few minor things that can be extrapolated from the news release:
- Premium processing start time will be no later than April 28, 2014. This means that those who are selected can have their applications begin processing if they paid extra for the premium service.
- If your employer filed for premium processing, you should not travel outside the country from April 28 thru May 13 because you might get your H-1B visa at that time.
- Regular processing is likely to be delayed 3-5 months because the USCIS will concentrate their efforts on processing the premium applications first.
All in all, this is a tough year for foreigners who want to work in America. Large companies such as Tata, Infosys will likely pay for the premium processing since they can earn more money if their workers are working in America. It is not an easy year to get a visa, which is a tough break for those who finally secured a job but is not able to get the H-1B visa this year due to the competition. As Clint said it before:
Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya!?