On April 2, 2012, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting petitions for H-1B nonimmigrant visas for Fiscal Year 2013. The USCIS has already received 17,400 H-1B applications toward the annual cap of 65,000. It has also received 8,200 petitions toward the 20,000 cap for exempt applicants with advanced degrees.
Last year, the H-1B visa cap was not met until November 22, 2011. However, early filing projections suggest bigger volumes and that the cap may be met sooner than last year.
The H-1B program is used by U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation, as defined by the statute as “requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor including but not limited to architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, biotechnology, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum.”
USCIS accepts H-1B visas no more than 6 months ahead of the actual start date which would make the effective date the beginning of the fiscal year – October 2012. The maximum duration for H1-B visas are six years with certain exceptions. The H1-B visa is one of the few visas with duel intent which allows the visa holder to legally stay in the United States while having immigration intent.
USCIS indicated that it would provide updates on the H-1B visa petition cap for FY 2013. Once it receives its cap of petitions it will issue announce a “final receipt date.”
The USCIS will continue to accept H1-B cases not subject to the cap. This includes extension of status, change of employer, amendments and concurrent employment.
If you would like more information on the H-1B program or need assistance in filling out the necessary paperwork for the petition, please contact me.