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H-1B (H1B) Applications (What you may not know)

As we are slowly winding down with the H-1b season of FY2014, I thought it would be a good idea to make a blog post about some not-so-common common knowledge about H-1B Applications.

First, some observations: How quickly the H-1B cap fills has a direct correlation with the economy. In fact, H-1Bs tend to be the early predictors of a future economy.  So when things seem to be on the upswing with the economy, expect numbers to be filled MUCH faster than if we are on a down-swing.  Take for example this year. While the numbers are still pending, the prediction is that the H-1B numbers (65,000 applications) will be exhausted within the first week.  This is drastically different from the previous three years.

Second, many may not realize that it takes AT A BARE MINIMUM 2 weeks to prepare a good standard H-1b Application. This is because the first step is to do a Labor Conditions Application, which takes 7 business days to approve.  Often, when it comes to brand new companies, the first step is to get the company’s FEIN to be recognized by the USCIS, which adds at least two business days to the total processing time.  Then, factor in the time it takes to mail the application, get it signed by the appropriate signatory of the company, and you are looking at 2 weeks or longer as the bare minimum time frame, easily.

Third, it makes a huge difference when an application is thoroughly prepared.  I often see denials from older applications where the reason for denial is that the application was not well-supported.  The relevant fields on the forms were filled with bare minimum information, and the job category was not fully vetted before filling out the application.  The time that it takes to communicate and strategize with the company regarding the preparation of an application is CRUCIAL in increasing approval rates.  It is no wonder that firms who bulk process H-1B applications often see lower approval rates.  At the end of the day, the best way to save money, is to have your application approved.  The easiest way to lose money is to try to save money by having a low-fee high-volume firm process your application in a bulk manner.   We focus on each application individually and our focus on these applications is easily noted by the results we obtain.

Fourth, do your research on who specifically will work on your H-1B application within the firm.  This is particularly crucial for smaller companies who are not yet experienced on the process of H-1b and the various complexities that can result.  Often times, you choose the firm, but the firm chooses the case-worker.  You should have some knowledge as to the experience and education level of the people involved in the processing of your H-1b application.  Is it being passed off on a junior paralegal? Is it being worked on by a new law school graduate?  If you are concerned about your application being approved, you should pay attention to the inside of the law firm processes as well as the overall reputation.

Fifth, and finally, is the law firm willing to work with your company’s culture?  Often times high-volume firms do not take the time to understand your company and therefore are not able to work with you effectively.  We like to take our time getting to know each of our clients so that we can work with you in an effective and efficient manner.

For those of you who have Cap Subject applications, you may need to wait until 2014 to get started. When you do, keep the above points in mind. For those who are fortunate enough to be cap-exempt, you must keep the above in mind before contacting an attorney.