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Obtaining an H-1B visa

Arizona employers who wish to obtain an H-1B visa for foreign workers must prepare well before the filing season opens on April 1. Although the fiscal year in which those workers would be eligible for employment does not begin until Oct. 1, the volume of applications means the window of eligibility is usually only open for one week. The cap may be reached even sooner. In 2018, it took only five days.

Only 65,000 new H-1B visas are granted each year, and another 20,000 new ones are granted for people who have obtained graduate degrees from universities in the United States. Employees can only work for the employer who obtains the visa, and the visas are good for three years. They can be renewed for a maximum of six years. Which petitions are accepted is determined by a lottery process.

In order to have all the necessary paperwork in order in time, employers must consider their staffing needs well before the deadline. They also have to get a certified labor condition application. This can take up to 10 days. For employers who are cap-exempt, such as institutions of higher learning, and for employees who need to transfer or extend their status, this filing window is not applicable.

Employers may want legal assistance as they work their way through this complex process. U.S. immigration law is complicated, and even a small error could invalidate a petition on behalf of a prospective employee. Individuals who are wondering about their eligibility for a green card or for the right to work and remain in the country on other grounds may also want to consult an attorney. Educational background, family status and whether the person is eligible to claim asylum might all be factors in obtaining this permission.

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