Businesses who intend to petition on behalf of an immigrant employee, either for an immigrant visa leading to permanent residence or for a temporary worker visa like the H-1B, should be aware of two items in the news. First, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which must issue a certification prior to the approval of most employment-based visas, launched an online registry allowing public access to labor certification documents. Second, the filing season for fiscal year 2015 H-1B temporary workers visas begins April 1, 2014. In recent years, the number of petitions has exceeded the annual cap set by federal law in a matter of days, making timing a critical element for any H-1B petitioner.
Labor Certification Registry
Employers petitioning for an immigrant employee must obtain a labor certification document from the DOL before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will approve a visa petition. This indicates that no comparably-qualified U.S. citizen or permanent resident is available for the position. The DOL’s Labor Certification Registry (LCR), an online database that makes approved labor certifications issued by the DOL since April 15, 2009 available to the public, went live in August 2013. It includes permanent labor certifications and certifications for H-1B visas, H-1B1 visas for Chilean and Singaporean specialty workers, E-3 visas for Australian specialty workers, and H-2A and H-2B visas.
Employers should be aware of the information that is now available to the public online. Beneficiaries’ personally identifiable information, such as their name, date of birth, and address, is redacted from the documents. Most employer information, however, is still available, including job titles, job duties, compensation, recruitment efforts, and business contact information for human resources personnel.
H-1B FY 2015 Filing Season
USCIS will begin accepting visa petitions for the H-1B specialty worker program for fiscal year 2015 on April 1, 2014. H-1B visas are temporary visas that allow individuals who fit certain criteria to work in the U.S. temporarily in fields requiring a high level of education or training. To qualify, a person must have at least a bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent, have all required certifications or licenses to work in the employer’s field, and have both experience and recognized specialization in that field. The job must ordinarily require a high level of specialization, or must present a unique need for a highly-trained individual.
Federal immigration law caps the number of H-1B visas the government may issue each year at 85,000, which includes 65,000 regular visas and 20,000 subject to an advanced-degree exemption. For about the past ten years, the number of petitions received by the government each year has vastly exceeded the cap. Filing a petition as soon as possible after the start of the filing season is therefore critical. USCIS began accepting petitions for fiscal year 2014 on April 1, 2013, and it received 124,000 petitions during the filing period.
Applying for immigration benefits requires careful preparation and a thorough knowledge of the law. Immigration attorney Samuel C. Berger helps businesses petition for prospective immigrant employees who want to come to the U.S. We also represent immigrants and prospective immigrants seeking visas to come and live in the New York or New Jersey areas, or who have already made their homes in this area. Please contact us today online or at (212) 380-8117 to schedule a confidential consultation to see how we may be of service to you.
More Blog Posts:
H-2B Guest Worker Program Poses Problems for Both Workers and Employers, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 8, 2014
O-1 Visas Give Businesses a Way to Bring In Workers of “Extraordinary Ability,” While Use of B-1 Visas Results in $34 Million Fine for One Company, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, November 19, 2013
H-1B Visa Cap for Fiscal Year 2014 Reached in Just Five Days, USCIS to Hold Lottery, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, April 6, 2013
Photo credit: By AgnosticPreachersKid (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.