News - March 2011

New H-1B Visas Available—Shortage Expected

Employers should act quickly to ensure they can obtain H-1B numbers for foreign workers. In several recent years, petitioners have exhausted the H-1B cap well before the end of the government’s fiscal year. We expect the numbers for this coming year to be depleted well before the end of the fiscal year, as employers with H-1B cap-subject cases will likely file their H-1B petitions in early April to lock in one of the H-1B cap numbers. (In past years USCIS has stated that issuance of cap numbers is based upon the date of case filing, not approval.)

On April 1, 2011, USCIS will begin accepting new H-1B petitions for the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2011. Employers who miss this year’s cap will have to wait until April 1, 2012 to file new H-1B petitions for employment commencing on or after October 1, 2012. Employers should feel free to contact our office to discuss and plan their filing strategies.

Note that the cap does not affect H-1B employees who: (1) change employers; (2) change jobs with the same employers; or (3) apply for extensions of stay. Also, the cap does not affect petitions filed by institutions of higher education and non-profit entities affiliated with those institutions, nonprofit research organizations and government research agencies.

While the standard H-1B cap for FY2012 is 65,000, over ten percent of those numbers are reserved for nationals of Chile and Singapore under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between these countries and the U.S. If employers use all of the FTA numbers, then only 58,500 H-1B visas will be available under the cap for the coming fiscal year. In addition to the standard 65,000 visa numbers, 20,000 additional visas exempt from the standard cap are available for employees who obtained a Master’s degree in the U.S.

Employers may contact our office for a free consultation.


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