The H-1B Race is On Again
March 28, 2008

Unless you are a governmental organization or a not for profit organization associated with an institution of higher learning (or the like), the odds of your business or organization successfully facilitating the issuance of an H-1B work visa on behalf of a prospective foreign national employee is about 1 in 3 – and that assumes the business files the paperwork with immigration authorities on exactly the right day – April 1. That is due to the fact that Congress allocates only 65,000 such visas for private businesses per year, and according to last years numbers, US CIS received more than triple this number in applications. And it took exactly one day for the supply of 65,000 to be allocated.

The 65,000 allotment is in addition to the separate supply of 20,000 H-1B visas reserved for foreign workers who received advanced degrees at a U.S. university. Based on last years records, the supply of 20,000 advanced degree H-1B visas do not run out nearly as fast, although they will surely run out early in the fiscal year.

Why is April 1 the magic date? For most federal government agencies the fiscal year begins October 1. Thus, on October 1, 2008, the 2009 fiscal year begins for US Citizenship and Immigration Services and a new supply of H-1B visas are presented for consumption. The earliest an H-1B petition can be filed is 6 months prior to the date employment is sought to be commenced, thus the April 1 magic day.

It is important to note that petitions filed to extend the H-1B status of individuals previously issued such status are not counted against the 65,000 cap.

Surely, it will not be before a new administration takes office in Washington that Congress will be in a position, practically or politically, to pass any type of legislation that create paths for more foreign nationals to live and work legally in the U.S.

Copyright © 2007-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois