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Changes may be coming for the H-1B program

Florida employers who want to hire and sponsor qualified foreign workers to come to the United States under the H-1B visa program may want to act quickly, as changes may be coming to the program. These changes may take place with little advance notice through the Department of Homeland Security. Currently, there is an annual cap on the number of H-1B visas that can be issued each year. The annual limit is 65,000, and there is an exemption for 20,000 additional visas for people who obtained advanced degrees in the United States.

The changes on the horizon involve employees who are currently subject to these visa caps, and there may be some exceptions for nonprofit colleges and universities. For companies that want to hire and sponsor specialized global talent in the U.S., it can be important to start the H-1B application process immediately. In many cases, petitions are filed in late March or early April for a planned October start date. However, many employers would be advised to start the process now before the announcement of the changes.

Under the changes, it may be more difficult to extend H-1B status as well, and re-applications that were previously simple could become more challenging. Regulatory changes could apply to a number of workers in the United States on different visa statuses, including L-1 intracompany transferees, NAFTA professionals from Mexico and Canada and certain F-1 student visa holders.

Employers who want to file new H-1B applications for people in these or other categories would want to start by identifying those who need applications and gathering salary and other relevant information on them. Working with an employment immigration lawyer can help employers to prepare these petitions properly.

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