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The number of petitions that may be filed for this year’s H-1B 2018 Cap season is anticipated to surpass last year’s 236,000 applications. With the large pool of applicants, it is important to know how to keep yourself ahead of the game—or at least give yourself a fighting chance at the 85,000 H-1B quota. Today, we will discuss some strategies to keep yourself ahead of the game and fully prepared for the April 1, 2017 H-1B filing deadline.

Before we begin going over the strategies, let me give you a quick brief on the process. Every October 1st, 85,000 H-1B visas become available and the H-1B applicants are selected in April. For the lottery process, having a Master’s degree or higher from a public or nonprofit U.S. institution puts you at an advantage. 20,000 applicants with a Master’s degree are selected for the first round of the lottery. If you’re one of the applicants not selected during the first round, you’ll be recycled into the second round with the applicants holding a Bachelor’s degree, which means you get a second chance at the remaining 65,000 H-1B visas. With the recent upturn in the U.S. economy, chances are high that there’s going to be more employers seeking H-1Bs for their potential employees than ever before; thus, plan ahead to increase your chances of getting selected.

To ensure that the H-1B petition is submitted on-time, here are some tips to follow:

  1. Request a Foreign Credential Evaluation as early as possible

For foreign nationals educated outside of the U.S., he or she must get their credentials evaluated through a Foreign Credential Evaluation to apply for an H-1B visa. During H-1B cap season, credential evaluation services are highly sought after, so it is recommended to obtain this in advance to avoid last minute complications. Additionally, employees should obtain all educational, work experience, immigration documents, and resume in preparation for the credential evaluation.

  1. Prepare and submit the Labor Condition Application (LCA) as soon as possible

An LCA certified by the Department of Labor (DOL) is required for H-1B visa applications, and the certification process takes a minimum of seven (7) days. As we approach the H-1B filing, the DOL will receive an influx of filed LCA’s, resulting in possible delays in the approval process. Additionally, there are occasional breakdowns in the electronic-filing system for LCAs, so it is necessary to plan in advance for the LCA filing to avoid missing the H-1B lottery deadline.

  1. Work with an experienced business immigration attorney

The difference between a successful and unsuccessful H-1B application often depends on the quality of work associated with the business immigration attorney filing the petition. To increase your chances at the H-1B lottery, it is essential to use an attorney with the proper experience to assist and guide you in the application process. Using an experienced attorney gives you the proper resource, especially in the case that you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS for your H-1B petition.