Many employers in Maryland rely on qualified foreign workers to fill specialty occupations. To retain these workers, employers must apply for H-1B visas. Because demand for H-1B visas has been steadily increasing each year, employers must file their visa applications early if they want to retain their foreign employees.
This year, the earliest possible date to file a petition for an H-1B visa is Monday, April 3. If employers want to file their petitions on the earliest possible date, they must get prepared ahead of time. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will not accept any H-1B visa applications without a Labor Condition Application that has been certified by the Department of Labor. Processing time for LCAs is usually about one week, but it could take longer when more applications are filed in March.
It is important for employers to file their H-1B petitions early because not every qualifying H-1B applicant will be issued a visa. Each year, the USCIS is only allowed to issue 65,000 new H-1B visas plus an additional 20,000 H-1B visas for employees that hold advanced degrees from U.S. academic institutions. In 2016, around 36 percent of H-1B applicants were issued visas in the lottery system. The USCIS received almost 236,000 H-1B petitions in 2016 and around 233,000 H-1B petitions in 2015.
It may be smart for companies to file their H-1B petitions at the earliest possible date, especially if their foreign employees are vital to their business. An immigration attorney can often be of assistance in ensuring that all of the required visa documentation is in order.