The annual roller coaster ride, known as the H-1B visa application process, is about to go up the hill and come speeding down, with unknown twists and turns coming your way.

For the next eight weeks, employers are scrambling to decide whether to sponsor foreign nationals for professional positions, U.S. university grads from foreign countries are scrambling for sponsor companies, USCIS is attempting to raise costs for the H-1B lottery and filing fees significantly, which could take effect for this year’s process, so it can randomly choose which ones to review and which ones to reject and then try to reject the ones that it does accept in the H-1B lottery!

No, this is not the circus or Dante’s inferno. This is the process that the U.S. federal government uses to decide which companies can hire the world’s best and brightest, including engineers, scientists, technology specialists, and mathematicians, for example, i.e., the kind of people the U.S. has a shortage of, and who we need to keep up with the likes of China, Germany, the UK, etc.

So how can U.S. employers maneuver through this chaos successfully? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Line up your candidates NOW, and have them ready for submission to the H-1B lottery in March.
  2. Maximize your odds by hiring U.S. Masters’s degree holders: There is a separate annual cap of 20,000 visas for foreign nationals with U.S. master’s degrees versus only 65,000 for non-U.S. university degree holders. All things being equal, sponsor someone with a 2/3 chance to get their petition chosen in the random lottery, rather than a 1/3 chance, based on the number of petitions filed in the past two years.
  3. Know your budget and be prepared to pay more or employ part-time: The U.S. Department of Labor tries to dissuade U.S. employers by requiring higher-than-normal salary minimums for H-1B candidates, so you need to be sure you can pay the wage. If it does not meet your budget, you can pro-rate the salary and hire part-time because H-1B does not require full-time employment. Also, be prepared to pay more than you did last year for the H-1B lottery entry and filing fees if your case(s) is(are) selected.
  4. Be ready to start at level 2: In recent years, most H-1B cases at the lowest salary level were met with requests for evidence, and many were denied unfairly. The take-home lesson is to start at level 2, even if you have to do it part-time, to reduce the risk of denial.
  5. Be linear: Try to present position titles that come as close as possible to matching the candidate’s degree. Choosing a psychology major for a client relations specialist will make the chances of proving that there is a logical nexus between the two more difficult and raise the chances of denial. Worry less about the internal title and use the generic one and try to match the position to the degree.

Getting selected in the H-1B lottery only means you get a chance to have your case adjudicated. That may be the easy part, given the administration we are governed by. The above tips might just help you and your foreign national candidate to the end of the roller coaster ride in one piece and ready to work together in the future.

For more information on this subject, contact us.