Published: March 28, 2011

We are already talking fiscal year 2012, and for Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services, it starts October 1, 2010. As early as April 1, 2011, interested employers and foreign workers can start the process of accessing the 85,000 visas that will be available, with 65,000 visas in the general supply and 20,000 reserved for U.S. graduate school degree holders – with workers then becoming eligible to commence employment in the U.S. as of October 1, 2011. As of this writing, those are the numbers for the annual allotment of new H-1B visas that employers and their (prospective) foreign national employees will be scrambling for come April, 2009. 65,000 is the general supply, and an additional 20,000 are for individuals who have been awarded graduate degrees in the U.S. Unlike in years past, last year’s April 1 filing date came with far less hoopla as a result of a depressed economy and far fewer job opportunities being offered to foreign professionals. In fact, job opportunities in the H-1B context were so scarce last year that H-1B visas remained available all the way through the end of January, 2011. This scenario is in sharp contrast to the frenzy of previous years where the H-1B visa supply was exhausted within just days of April 1 – and more than 5 months before the fiscal year in question began. In those years, DHS/CIS, by the end of the first week of April, would receive 3 petitions for every H-1B visa slot available. Oh my, how times – and our economy – have changed!

If accepted and approved, an H-1B petition allows the beneficiary worker to commence work in the U.S. come the following October. With October, 2011 less than 7 months away, now is the time to start thinking about filing a petition.

As a reminder, H-1B visa eligibility is generally premised upon a bona fide job offer in a “specialty occupation” (where the attainment of a university degree is usually required) , and the prospective employee must possess a degree or experiential equivalent in the field at issue. Also, positions with a government agency or not-for-profit organization affiliated with an institution of higher learning (e.g. university) are among the type of jobs that are not subject to the H-1B cap described above. Further, the H-1B visa cap does not impact those who already have an H-1B visa and are otherwise eligible to extend their status or change H-1B employers

Copyright © 2011, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois