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H-1B Visa Petitions are Still Available

Labor & Employment Law Alert Lisa D. Duran, Grant Sovern, Otto W. Immel, Maria F. Kallmeyer

Over 50,000 regular H-1B visas are still available for the 2011 Fiscal Year H-1B Cap. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service ("USCIS") is also still accepting petitions for the 20,000 advanced degree 211 FY H-1B Cap as only 5,600 have been filed so far.

H-1B visas are the most common type of work visa in the U.S. Employers may petition USCIS to approve an H-1B for a candidate who has at least a bachelor's degree in a specialized field. It is not necessary to prove there are no U.S. workers available to fill the position. The government's fiscal year runs from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011. In past years, an employer who wanted to hire a foreign-born employee (such as a foreign student who just graduated from a U.S. university) with an H-1B had only one day to file (April 1) for the entire next fiscal year.

It is uncertain how long slots will remain available, but the reports from USCIS indicate the filing rate continues to be very light; it may be many more months before the regular 65,000 slots for the 2011 FY H-1B Cap are filled. Therefore, if you are considering hiring a foreign worker who would require a new H-1B slot to begin employment with your organization anytime during the government's 2011 fiscal year, there is still a good chance of obtaining one.

Candidates who currently have an H-1B visa with a different employer are not subject to the annual H-1B cap. Those petitions may be filed anytime, and employment may begin immediately after filing. New H-1B petitions, which are subject to the cap, may be filed anytime as long as new H-1B slots are available, but employment cannot be authorized before October 1, 2010.

For more information on H-1B petitions or other employment immigration benefits, including other visas (TN, L-1, O-1, E, or J-1) or permanent resident petitions (green cards), please contact a member of our Quarles & Brady immigration team, Maria Kallmeyer (Chicago) at (312) 715-5009 /, Grant Sovern (Madison) at (608) 283-2668 /, Lisa Duran (Phoenix) at (602) 229-5225 / or Otto Immel (Naples/Tampa) at (239) 659-5041 /