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Skilled labor and H1-B visa applications

Business owners in Florida have the option to recruit skilled workers from other countries under federal immigration policy. The H1-B visa program allows businesses to bring in certain categories of specialized labor, including computer programmers, engineers and scientists. The program establishes a start date for applications, an annual limit on the number of employment visas and other guidelines that business owners need to understand before participation.

Acceptance of applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services usually begins in April. Though application may be processed on the specified date, employers can only request an H1-B visa application for foreign workers with an employment start date in six months or less. This rule also holds for extensions.

With only 65,000 visas made available per year, timing of recruitment and start date may be critical factors in successful employment-based petitions. Beyond the 65,000 cap, USCIS also makes 20,000 exemptions available for employees with a master's degree or higher earned in the U.S. Another consideration for employers is that 6,800 H1-B visas of the total are set aside specifically for foreign workers from Singapore and Chile. Unused employment visas for these pools of workers are rolled over to the next fiscal year.

Businesses sometimes find that the skilled workers they need are not available in the pool of local applicants. In this case, it makes sense to investigate other options. In order to ensure a predictable recruitment process and H1-B visa issuance, owners need to make timely applications that adhere to all USCIS rules. Decisions about recruitment campaigns also need to be oriented toward a successful visa application. Businesses seeking employment visas for foreign workers may achieved greater success with the assistance of an attorney experienced in immigration law matters.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Cap Season", September 30, 2014

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