Still many of our blog readers are awaiting for last year’s H1B petition approval decisions from USCIS…the irony is that we are just about 3 months away from next year’s H1B season. It amazes me how fast things go by and how time flies…. If you do not know, last year for H1B Visa 2015 season, a record number of 172,500 H1B visa petitions were filed by employers in USA, which ended up in a lottery situation and only 85,000 lucky applicants were picked. If you are planning to apply for H1B Visa 2016, you should plan and get things moving quickly. In this article, we will try to give out a very high level plan for you all so that you can keep track of your H1B application process and keep things moving.
When does H1B Visa 2016 Season Start ? When does USCIS Accept applications ?
Quick Answer: April 1st, 2015. So far no new changes to H1B petitions acceptance dates have been communicated by USCIS. Typically, USCIS starts to accept H1B petitions for next fiscal year from April 1st of the previous fiscal year. USCIS’s fiscal year starts from October 1st of every year and ends by September 30th. USCIS’s fiscal year for 2015 started in October of 2014. So, for next fiscal year, which is 2016, USCIS will start to accept applications starting from April 1st, 2015.
H1B Visa 2016 Plan – Step by Step Guide
Last year, there was H1B Visa Lottery and it was crazy busy time for attorneys as they had a pile of applications to process. To avoid last minute hassles, a plan could help. The below plan and guide is very indicatory and it is based on our experience. It can be shifted early or later based on your situation. The whole idea is to capture all the significant steps in the process, you go through them and have ample time for the same. I have just divided the dates by two weeks or week so that it is easy for you to plan.
|| Goals, Description of the H1B Process Activity
10th – 31st
| Goal : Your goal for the next 5 weeks is to find a H1B sponsoring company during this period and find a job in that company.
- H1B Sponsors List: You should research and create a list of all the companies that could be your H1B sponsoring company for your profile. I suggest, you read article: How to find H1B Visa 2015 Sponsors. You can use our free H1B Visa Sponsors Database to look for companies that sponsor based on several criteria like Job Title, City, Zip Code. All the data on the sponsors database is from US DOL’s LCAs past data published by them for public disclosure.
- Apply Jobs – Interviews: As you are creating list of these H1B sponsoring companies, you should also apply for jobs during this period in parallel and attend interviews. Apply to as many companies as you can and get interviews done.
- F1 Visa Students – Internships : If you are a student already working in US and doing internship at a company, you would need to check with them, if they can sponsor H1B Visa for you. The sooner you get an answer from them, the sooner you can begin job search. So get this clarified quickly. If they do not sponsor, you need to do the above two steps.
||1st – 15th
||15th – 31st
||Goal : You goal for these couple of weeks is to ensure that you have a clear job offer, which is negotiated well, from one or more H1B sponsoring companies and make sure they are having a good track record. Also, to get all the required documents for filing visa.
- Negotiate Salary, Benefits : Make sure you negotiate well with the employer regarding salary and other benefits. You always stick to market rate and should negotiate at least for that. You can check in our H1B Database for salaries offered for a role. You can also use GlassDoor website for average salaries info. You should negotiate just like any other new employee, do not get carried away by thinking that H1B Sponsorship expenses and you need to take less salary. The more offers the better for you, so that you can make a decision based on options. Read the articles : 1) What to Ask H1B employer before offer letter 2) How to Negotiate Salary & benefits in consulting
- Verify the H1B Visa Sponsoring companies – It is very important that you do enough due diligence on the companies that gave you offer. Our H1B Sponsors database will give you a high level profile view of the company with rejections, approvals of LCAs, it should give you some idea. Also, I suggest you speak to people and get more information regarding the company and policies. You will need to dig into details like the types of jobs and LCAs these companies have filed, including approvals, denials, etc.
- Get Documents: You should secure all the required documents for filing your H1B petition. You would need that verify your education like transcripts, degree certificates, documents for job experience like experience letters, etc. For full list, read article H1B Visa Petition Filing Check list.
||21st – 28th
|| Goal : This week’s goal is to decide the H1B Sponsor.
- Finalize the H1B Sponsoring Company: The sooner you decide the better for you. If you have been working hard, you may have more offers and it is best to put them in an excel and rank them based on various aspects like salary, benefits, good will, brand, etc. If you are joining a consulting company, ensure that you know someone in that company, talk to someone working there so that you know the ground reality in that company. Think of things like do they do Green Cards and your future with the company as well.
||1st – 7th
||Goal : Your goal this week is to send all the documents, work with attorney and ensure right information is given to them.
- Giving Documents to Attorney: Work with your employer and their attorney for filing H1B petition. You will need to send the documents, usually only scan copies of the documents are requested by attorney. Do NOT provide any originals. Read article on What NOT to give to H1B Employer to file petition.
- Send out all the scan copies via email. If anything required as hard copy, just courier the same. It is critical that you work with your attorney and have it ready so that they file for your LCA during this week itself.
- LCA filing: Your Labor Condition Application (LCA) has to be filed with US Department of Labor ( DOL ) by this week or even earlier. This has to be done as early as possible. As soon as you have a decision made, just work with attorney and ensure they file the LCA for you.
||8th – 24th
|| Goal : Your goal is to keep Checking and ensure H1B filing goes smooth.
- Status Check- Filing : You need to check with your attorney and employer, if they have all the documents and everything is on track. This is the most busiest time for employers and attorneys. If everything went well and your attorney has all the paperwork, there is no activity for you. Just keep tabs on everything so that you don’t hear last minute surprises.
||24th – 31st
|| Goal : Ensure H1B Application is filed. Stay calm and relax.
- Final Check : Final check on if everything is well and employer is filing it on time. You have no activity after that. Your attorney/ H1B sponsor would work with companies like UPS, FedEx, USPS to deliver your H1B visa application petition exactly on April 1st, 2015, which is a Wednesday. Just stay calm and relax.
Did I miss anything ? Add your thoughts and comments.
You may also check previous article on H1B Visa 2015 planning and guide