Published: April 12, 2012

For most government agencies, including Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), fiscal year 2013 starts on October 1, 2012. Starting on that date, U.S. employers are able to benefit from a new crop of foreign workers who are issued H-1B work visas. As early as April 1, 2012, interested employers and foreign workers have had an opportunity to start the process of accessing the annual supply of 85,000 visas – 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, 2012.

As of this writing, 8,200 of the 20,000 visa supply specifically allotted for US educated advanced degree holders have been counted against the cap (although once this supply is exhausted, interested employers will still be able to petition such advanced degree holders except that such workers will be counted against the separate, general supply of 65,000). To date, the general supply of 65,000 has been reduced to 48,000 – and thats just based on the petitioning activity thats taken place the past two weeks, and again, with an eye toward worker start dates of October 1, 2012, when fiscal year 2013 begins. Based on the increased demand shown for H-1B visas for the upcoming fiscal year (as compared to demand in recent years), I would not be surprised if the overall supply of H-1B’s is exhausted by the beginning of summer 2012, if not sooner.

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 © 2012, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois