Last week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (the “USCIS”) announced that it had already reached the statutory limit of 65,000 H-1B visas allowed to be issued for foreign workers in “specialty occupations,” and that it had also received more than 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of foreign workers who have advanced degrees that qualify for exemption from the cap for Fiscal Year 2014 (which begins on October 1, 2013).
This is the first time in several years that employers have rushed to fill all available H-1B slots in the opening week for petition filings. The USCIS received a flood of roughly 124,000 H-1B petitions, and had to use a computer-generated random selection process to select fairly from among 65,000 recipients in the general H-1B category.
The USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap, and will continue to accept and process petitions 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.
Up to 6,800 visas may also be set aside for workers from Chile and Singapore, pursuant to the H-1B1 program arising out of the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore free trade agreements.
If your business needs foreign workers to fill specific needs, and you are not sure how to sponsor those workers under visa programs other than the H-1B program, or if you just need legal assistance with any business immigration issue, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (847) 564-0712 for an appointment to speak with an experienced and qualified immigration lawyer. You can also check out our immigration law Website for more information about how we might assist you.