As of now, nonimmigrant visas are not available to those individuals who are subject to the H-1B cap, which has been reached for fiscal year 2012. All available slots have been filled for the 65,000 customary H-1B visas, as well as for 20,000 cap-exempt visas set aside for individuals who have obtained an advanced degree.
However, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (the “USCIS) will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
- Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the U.S.;
- Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
- Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
- Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
Petitioners can also still file for visas on behalf of workers from Chile and Singapore, to the extent those visas are available, pursuant to special trade agreements with those countries that permit the granting of up to 6,800 H-1B visas annually to their citizens.
U.S. companies use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.
Employers might want to consider preparations in 2012 for filing a petition to sponsor H-1B workers for fiscal year 2013, which starts as of Oct. 1, 2012. Petitions for worker start dates on or after Oct. 1, 2012 may be filed on or after April 1 of the coming year. Petitions should be filed as soon as possible to avoid being shut down by the annual cap limitation for the H-1B program (cap amount of 65,000 expected for FY 2013).
Some petitions for fiscal year 2013 will be exempt from the cap if they are made on behalf of certain individuals who have obtained an advanced U.S. degree, but USCIS grants the exemption only to the first 20,000 applications.
H-1B petitions, in order to be properly filed, must be complete and accurate. Necessary documents include, but are not limited to the following:
- A Form I-129 petition with appropriate supplements;
- Labor condition applications on Form ETA 9035;
- Required evidence of a beneficiary’s educational background;
- Duplicate copies of certain documents; and
- Consulate-specific forms required by the Department of State where appropriate.
If you are in need of more information about business immigration, please check the pertinent section of our Website or call our offices at (847)564-0712.