H-1B cap season is here. On April 2, USCIS began accepting petitions for the H-1B visa lottery. And similar to last year, it took just five business days before. While waiting to have an H-1B petition accepted, you may be wondering what to expect. When can your employee enter the U.S. if they’re not already here? When can they begin working?
Here’s what you can look forward to as you get started:
H-1B petition accepted? Here are your next steps
First, watch for RFEs
Though there may be delays in acceptance of H-1B cap petitions (such as requests for evidence (RFEs), which increased by 45 percent between 2016 and 2017), 85,000 H-1B visas will be awarded.
You may not know for some time whether your employee has been accepted, and in the coming months, USCIS will be issuing RFEs, to which you have an allotted time frame to respond with supporting documentation. Though RFEs do not always indicate an impending denial, lately RFEs have been correlated with higher denial rates.
If you are successful, with an H-1B petition accepted, you can expect a few different notifications from USCIS, which may be mailed directly from the agency. Or, if you work with an immigration provider like Envoy, they will be sent to you.
If you are an Envoy customer, we will email you to alert you that your petition has been accepted and your filing fee check deposited with USCIS. Some petitions will be approved as of June 1, and formal approval notices will likely arrive after August 1.
If you are not an Envoy customer, you can expect to see an approval alert and notification of your check deposit with USCIS after the beginning of June. You will be sent a formal approval notice by USCIS in early fall 2018.
Starting work on H-1B
Generally, H-1B visa holders can begin work no earlier than October 1, 2018. Some petitions arriving from overseas may be permitted to enter the country 10 days ahead of time to settle in before starting work on October 1. (Here’s a helpful list of important dates for the H-1B visa cap.)
H-1B petition denied or missed the cap? Download our H-1B Visa Alternatives Guide to explore other potential options.