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H-1B visa season is upon us and this year there are many changes – so many that we are hosting a webinar next week to go over the H-1B and Green Card process (register here).  The following is a brief review of the H-1B visa program, to whom it pertains, why you should care, and what you generally need to do to make your H-1B dreams a reality!

What is the H-1B?

Though not exclusively, it’s the primary work visa used by businesses to recruit skilled workers with degrees, normally in a STEM field. If your candidate has a STEM degree, however, it’s more likely they’ll qualify for the H-1B visa.  There are other work visas, but for recent college grads and most other foreign workers that you might want to employ, the H-1B is the only real option.

Who is the H-1B for?

It’s for your business.  With the visa you sponsor a foreign national you want to work for you.

If you are recruiting, or currently employ a foreign national, they will need a work authority visa before they can work for you.  U.S. Citizens and green card holders have work authority, but recent college grads and other foreign workers need a visa to work long-term for your company.

Is it for everyone?

Nope.  The H-1B is only for highly specialized jobs that require the employee to have a highly specialized degree. Engineers? Yes. Operations Managers? No. IT Specialists? Yes.  Bookkeepers? No. 

Am I guaranteed an H-1B visa?

Absolutely not.  There are a limited number issued every federal fiscal year.  85,000 to be exact.  Since the Great Recession 200,000+/- each year get filed.  Depending on the year, between 1:2 to 1:3 applicants are selected for the H-1B visa.

What do I need to do now?

This year we have an entirely new lottery process!  You need to file your application for the lottery between March 1 and March 20.  The application process is entirely on-line and the cost is $10.  For those applications timely submitted the lottery will run and applicants will find out if they were selected through their on-line accounts.

What is the cost?

Current fees charged by Immigration Services are: $460 (application fee); $500 (fraud prevention fee); and $750/$1500 (training fee; amount depends on the size of the business).  There is an additional, but optional, $1410 premium processing fee.  Also, you will likely need to hire an attorney to do this for you, so there’s going to be a fee for that.

Do I need a lawyer?

Yes.  It’s self-serving, but, if you have never applied for an H-1B visa or aren’t intimately familiar with the process and regulatory requirements, you need a lawyer.  Meandering through the lottery process alone will be tricky, but, if you’re selected, the petition, arguments, and supporting documentation needed to apply for the visa are robust and not readily understood.  And, the current administration is denying applications at a high rate.

myHRgenius and Thompson Coe can help businesses with any work visas, Green Cards, and other immigration needs.  Call or e-mail with any questions at 651-389-5000 or

Thompson Coe and myHRgenius Tip of the Week is not intended as a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


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Kevin M. Mosher

Kevin M. Mosher


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