U.S. H-1B visa for specialty workers
No more work permits for H-1B’s this year.
I have a college degree in accounting and an employer that wants to sponsor me. I have been told that I qualify for the H-1B, but that there may be a problem with getting the H-1B adjudicated. My application was submitted about one week ago. I better hurry to get the application in to the immigration. How long do I have?
Answer: Unfortunately, you may be too late for this year. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have just announced that the H-1B procedures have reached the cap. In other words, the USCIS announced today that it has received enough H-1B petitions to meet this year’s congressionally mandated cap of 65,000 new workers. After today, USCIS will not accept any new H-1B petitions for first-time employment subject to the FY 2004 annual cap.
Question: What does this mean for my application?
Answer: First, the new H-1B’s will start again next October. USCIS has implemented the following procedure for the remainder of FY 2004: 1) USCIS will process all petitions filed for first-time employment received by the end of business on February 17, 2004; 2) USCIS will return all petitions for first-time employment subject to the annual cap received after the end of business today; 3) Returned petitions will be accompanied by the filing fee; 4) Petitioners may re-submit their petitions when H-1B visas become available next October; 4) The earliest date a petitioner may file a petition requesting Fiscal Year 2005 H-1B employment with an employment start date of October 1, 2004, would be April 1, 2004.
Question: What about my friend who has an H-1B that is about to expire and needs to get his H-1B extended? Is he also subject to the H-1B cap.
Answer: Petitions for current H-1B workers do not count towards the congressionally mandated H-1B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States, change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers, allow current H-1B workers to change employers, allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
Question: Are there any other exceptions?
Answer: USCIS also notes that petitions for new H-1B employment are not subject to the annual cap if the alien will be employed at an institution of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, or at a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization. USCIS will also continue to process H-1B petitions for workers from Singapore and Chile consistent with Public Laws 108-77 and 108-78.
Question: What about persons who do not fall into those categories, but must file for the H-1B?
Answer: They cannot file now for the H-1B. However, there are other types of status they could try to apply for if they qualify. Such examples would be the O (Extraordinary Ability), or F (Student) change of status. They must be careful to maintain their status or they will not be able to change their status once the H-1B’s begin again next October.