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Immigration Update

New H-1B visas still available, but for how long?
December 16, 2010

Yesterday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) reported that as of December 10, 2010, it had received approximately 52,400 petitions against the 58,200 H-1B standard cap numbers available (6800 are reserved for Singapore and Chilean nationals but may be released if CIS anticipates they will not be used, as in previous years) and 19,100 petitions against the 20,000 cap exemption for foreign nationals holding U.S. advanced degrees. The agency will continue accepting H-1B filings for those who qualify and will be counted against the cap until they receive a sufficient number to meet the annual quota.  

While H-1B numbers have been used much more slowly this year than in recent years, this is likely to increase as we near the end of the calendar year given the improving national economic picture and the award of new college degrees this month.  Yesterday's announcement proved this to be true as more numbers are being used each week than the last.   If H-1B numbers continue to be used at this rate we anticipate the cap could be hit in the next several weeks. Also, the  icert Labor Condition Application (LCA) system, a prerequisite for filing an H-1B petition, is now taking five to seven business days to process LCA's needed for the H-1B filing. 

As such, we recommend employers initiate the H-1B process now if they require an H-1B for a new worker or are considering transitioning an existing worker to an H-1B to allow for extensions during a lengthy Green Card process. In our experience, by the time CIS announces they are nearing the cap limit, it will be too late to acquire a certified Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor and file the H-1B petition before the cap is hit. Persons currently in H-1B status who have been counted against the cap in previous years are not subject to the H-1B cap for extensions or changes in employers.   

Any H-1B petition subject to the annual H-1B cap that is not filed before the current year's numbers run out can be filed on April 1, 2011, requesting an October 1, 2011 start date. At time of publication, the December 10th H-1B cap count update is the last one posted by USCIS. USCIS posts its most recent H-1B cap count here.  

To initiate a new H-1B cap-subject filing, please contact a member of the MVA Immigration Team.