Now is the Time for Employers and New Foreign National Employees to Start Thinking about H-1B Petitions
Published September 15, 2008

65,000 and 20,000. 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. No doubt this April, as in the past two Aprils, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service offices will receive at least three times as many petitions as there are visas available.

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, 2009 more than a year away, is it too early to start thinking about filing a petition? No, and unless Congress acts to expand the meager annual supply now in play (today’s supply is one-third of what was available several years ago), interested companies and employees can very well benefit from putting their ducks in a row at this time. That way, come April 1, 2009 – the earliest date a petition can be filed for the following fiscal year (which begins October 1, 2009) – all employer CIS and Department of Labor paperwork, along with worker credentials and evaluations, can be ready for filing. And given that demand for H-1B visas will exceed the supply in just the first day of the filing period, submitting H-1B paperwork any later than the start of April will likely kill any chance of the petition being accepted or approved.

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