FAQs for H-1B Employees and Employers on FY 2015 H-1B Quota Cases

At the Law Offices of Rakesh Mehrotra, we answer hundreds of questions every day from employers who are new to the H-1B sponsorship process and from employers who are sponsoring their first H-1B employee this upcoming April. While many questions may be specific to an employer’s company or an employee’s own circumstances, there are general questions about the H-1B process that are often asked. We have provided the answers to a number of the most frequently asked questions below.

How soon can my employer file an H-1B petition for me?

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions on April 1, 2014 for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 H-1B quota cases. In general, once the petition is approved, the H-1B beneficiary can start working on October 1, 2014 (but there may be exceptions for certain OPT applicants). It is very important to start the H-1B sponsorship process as soon as possible to make sure all the petitions are timely filed.

My company just decided to sponsor an H-1B employee and it is already March 1, can we still apply?

Most likely yes, but you need to contact our office immediately in order for one of our attorneys to begin the process. H-1B petitions are extremely time sensitive and should be initiated as soon as possible.

I am changing status from F-1 to H-1B in the United States, do I need to leave the country and get an H-1B visa?

The short answer to this question is no, a foreign national who changes status in the U.S. from F-1 to H-1B does not need to obtain an H-1B visa from a U.S. consulate before beginning the H-1B employment. The employee can immediately begin the employment as of the start date on the H-1B Approval Notice. The employee is only required to obtain a visa if the employee departs the United States. If the employee takes a trip abroad, the employee will need to obtain the H-1B visa before returning to the U.S. – even if the employee’s previous visa in the old status is still valid.

Do I need to have a U.S. Bachelor’s degree for to get an H-1B?

Any U.S. Bachelor degree or its foreign equivalent will qualify someone for H-1B as long as the job he/she will be performing requires a Bachelors degree. Alternatively, if you are indicating that the beneficiary is qualified based on a combination of education and experience, we would have to include substantiating evidence to show that combination. Generally three years of progressive work experience is treated as one year towards four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree.

Additionally, if the beneficiary has a foreign academic degree and professional experience letters then we need to obtain a credential evaluation and this process can also take a few days.

I am married and have two children. My spouse and children were born in my country of origin. Can they accompany me when I come to the U.S. with my H-1B visa?Yes! In most cases, it is relatively easy for spouses and children of H-1B employees to obtain the dependent H-4 visa from the U.S. consulate and accompany the employee to the United States. Contact our office for a list of documents the H-4 dependents should bring to the consulate.

My friend’s H-1B petition has already been approved and his employer filed his application after mine! How come mine is taking so long?

This is one of the most often asked questions at our firm. There can be a number of reasons why one petition is approved and another remains pending at USCIS. For instance, H-1B petitions are filed at both the California Service Center and the Vermont Service Center – in any year, one center may be faster at processing than the other. Additionally, an applicant’s personal circumstances (such as a U.S. education, previous H-1B experience, job position, etc.) may affect the processing time of the application. The important thing to remember is don’t be discouraged – just because it is taking longer for your application to be approved doesn’t mean it won’t be. Try to be patient and remember to contact your HR representative for updates on your application.

My company really needs the H-1B employee to begin working in October and I also want to get the H-1B petition approved soon, is there any way to expedite the USCIS processing of the H-1B petition?

Yes! For an additional filing fee of $1,225 that is paid to USCIS, our office can file the H-1B petition to “premium processing” wherein USCIS will take action (approve, deny, or issue a request for evidence) on the case within 15 business days.

Feel free to contact our office at any time with additional questions about H-1B processes or immigration opportunities in general. We look forward to helping you with your case!