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H-1B application period coming in April 2019

Companies in California who want to hire skilled professionals from outside the United States may need to act urgently. The H-1B visa program allows businesses inside the U.S. to hire workers from abroad with specialized knowledge, and it is frequently used in the technology, medical and other scientific industries. However, the filing season for H-1B visas in 2020 begins on April 1, 2019, and the slots tend to fill up quickly. These applications are for sponsoring full-time H-1B employees during the coming fiscal year, which will run from October 2019 through September 2020.

Because of the flood of applications received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the filing window for an H-1B visa typically lasts for only one week or even less. In April 2018, the agency closed the filing period after only five days, having reached its maximum number of applications. Before filing an H-1B petition, a company must obtain a labor condition application (LCA) from the federal Department of Labor, a process that takes a week to 10 days. The LCA includes location and wage administration about the proposed H-1B job. Companies should obtain an LCA before March 15 in order to be prepared for the April filing period.

USCIS will grant 65,000 new H-1B visas for the 2020 fiscal year as well as 20,000 H-1B visas for people who graduated from U.S. universities with advanced, specialized degrees. A worker with this visa can only work for the sponsoring employer.

The successful H-1B visa applications are selected through a random lottery, although it is important to have a complete and thorough underlying request. Both the employer and employee must participate in the application to provide complete details. Companies thinking about how best to seek an H-1B approval might opt to work with an immigration lawyer to prepare their petition.

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