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H-1B visa applications for FY 2018 can be submitted starting Monday

At this time of the year, any discussion about the need to meet imminent deadlines invariably revolves around taxes, which are due in just under two weeks. As it turns out, however, there is yet another rapidly approaching deadline of which people -- particularly employers -- need to be aware: the opening of the submission period for H-1B visa applications.

While some might question why this should be viewed as a deadline, consider that demand is incredibly high, such that year after year the number of applications for H-1B visas submitted exceeds the limit of 85,000 set by Congress in only a few days, necessitating a lottery.

If you have a hard time believing this, consider that statistics show the 85,000 visa cap was reached in less than a week last year -- with 236,000 petitions submitted.

Experts indicate that this year's process, which will invariably result in a lottery, will see the introduction of new factors that may serve to further complicate an already stressful process for employers, including a more politically-charged environment and, as we discussed earlier this month, the temporary suspension of premium processing.

To recap, when employers need to get people to work faster, they can pay $1,225 for what is known as "premium processing" by U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, which promises that a H-1B visa application selected in the lottery will be processed within 15 calendar days or the fee will be fully refunded.

In 2016 alone, 59 percent of the total H-1B filings were premium processing filings.

USCIS indicated that the temporary suspension, effective April 3, will enable it to not only begin processing those applications that have been left pending for as long as eight months under the regular processing system, but also prioritize the adjudication of H-1B visas extension cases close to the 240-day expiration mark.

It will be fascinating to see what transpires in the coming days. Stay tuned for updates.

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you have questions or concerns regarding immigration matters relating to either employment or investment

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