H1B quota date approaching

By Andrew Stott

The H1B quota (for 2015) opens on 1 April 2014, so if you plan to work (legally) in the US, you should be well on the way to requesting employer or academic sponsorship for your application. 

Many international professionals I talk to want to work in the US and the main barrier to this is obtaining a visa, unless you are, or are planning to marry, a US national (and even then it is not straightforward). The main working visa for highly educated professionals is known as the H1B, one of many types of visa for “aliens” to enter the US.

There is a limit or cap to the number of visas issued in any fiscal year, limited to 65,000. Additionally the first 20,000 applicants with a US Masters degree or higher are exempt from the cap, so effectively 85,000 foreigners admitted. The US makes an announcement as soon as the quota is filled and last year’s quota was filled in less than 5 days although in 2013 (for 2014) this was not until June and in 2012 (for 2013) in November. Wikipedia also has a long post on the topic at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-1B_visa

According to the US Citizen and Immigration Services website (http://www.uscis.gov), this visa category “applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.” So whether you are a highly educated careerist or a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability you should have your process well under way.

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