Irish Network USA has members across the country with a range of experience relevant to the Global Irish.

We are proud to share this overview of the H1-b visa application process from Chicago member Fiona McEntee Website here.

As you may know, the H-1B “cap” filing period is rapidly approaching. The H-1B visa is an extremely sought-after option for professional-level foreign national employees. If you are considering filing an H-1B case this year, there are some crucial deadlines to keep in mind.

In this brief overview to the H-1B visa, the McEntee Law Group aims to outline some of the basic concepts, timelines and requirements that will be relevant to you in the coming months.

The McEntee Law Group is an established practice that specializes in immigration law. Fiona McEntee and Raymond McEntee are both from Dublin originally; Fiona is a U.S. attorney and Raymond is both a U.S. attorney and an Irish/UK qualified solicitor.

While we are based in Chicago, as immigration law is federal, we can and do represent clients all throughout the U.S. Additionally, the McEntee Law Group has expanded its practice to include a satellite office in Dublin to help serve our European and worldwide client base.

H-1B Visa: Requirements & Overview

The H-1B visa is used for “professional” level employees or “specialty occupations”.

  1. A speciality occupation position is one that requires at least a Bachelor’s degree in a specific field or its equivalent in experience.
  2. The individual must be qualified for the position meaning that he or she must have the requisite educational or work experience required.
  3. An individual in H-1B status must be paid at least the prevailing wage which is determined by the following: the job title and requirements; the location of the position; and, the number of hours per week.
  4. The employer does not have to guarantee that they will employ the individual for the duration of the H-1B visa i.e. up to 3 years initially.
  5. The employer must simply offer the job and pay the agreed wage – it is free to terminate the individual at any time.
  6. The H-1B visa is limited to 6 years in duration – this period can be extended if the green card process has been started for the individual.

H-1B: Cap

H-1Bs are limited or “capped” in number each fiscal year – less than 65,000 with an additional 20,000 reserved for those with U.S. Master’s degrees or higher. This is referred to as the H-1B cap.

  1. The H-1B “cap” opens on April 1st annually.
  2. The fiscal year starts on October 1st and, while a case can be filed up to 6 months prior to that date, employment may not begin until the start of the fiscal year.
  3. In terms of the cap numbers, in previous years all H-1B numbers were used up in the first week April 1st-5th and there was a random lottery conducted (1 in 3 or 4 chance of selection) to determine which cases would be adjudicated.
  4. Thus, all H-1B cap cases must be filed the first week of April 2016.
  5. It generally takes us at least a month, or two, to prepare an H-1B case for filing as there are pre-filing requirements and certifications that must be completed.
  6. Ideally, we would start working on an H-1B cap case no later than early or mid February.
  7. If the H-1B case is not selected in the cap, the filing fees will be returned.
  8. As the case has been fully prepared, attorney fees are non-refundable however we would be happy to offer you a complimentary consultation to discuss what other options may be available.
  9. The H-1B cap is typically only applicable to those who have not held H-1B status in the past 6 years. If an individual is currently in H-1B status, he or she can generally transfer that H-1B to another employer at any time.


The H-1B visa is extremely sought after for many reasons including its extended duration, dual intent (being allowed to pursue a green card) and transferability. Thus, it’s a great option for qualified candidates.

We have already started working on some of our H-1B cap cases for April 2016. If you think that this could be a good option for you or for a prospective or current employee, please contact us immediately so we can get the ball rolling. Remember, this opportunity only comes around once a year so the time to act is now!


The information provided in this guide is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact McEntee Law Group at directly info@mcenteelaw.com for legal advice specific to your situation.