Published:  October 23, 2011

For most government agencies, including Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), fiscal year 2012 starts on October 1, 2011.  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, 2011, 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, 2011.

As of this writing, the supply of 20,000 visas specifically allotted for US educated advanced degree holders has been exhausted.  However, employers seeking to petition this class of worker still will have an opportunity, as CIS will dip into the general supply of 65,000 to accommodate such a request.  To date, however, the general supply of 65,000 has dwindled down to approximately 20,000.   Based on the increased demand shown for H-1B visas for the current fiscal year (as compared to demand in recent years), I would not be surprised if the general supply of H-1B’s is exhausted by mid-December, 2011, 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 © 2011, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois