On Your Marks… Get Set… New H1B Filing Season Starts 1.April.2010

It’s almost springtime, mere weeks from the biggest event of Maryland’s horseracing season: Baltimore’s beloved Preakness Stakes at historic Pimlico Racecourse. With all due respect to this glittering jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes is no match for another high-stakes race soon to begin: the annual competition for H1B visas, closely watched by businesses and professionals alike.

Last week, the USCIS announced that on April 1, 2010, it will start accepting H1B petitions under the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11) cap, which allows for 65,000 H1B visa petitions. Another 20,000 H1B cases may be filed in FY11 under a cap-exempt status that applies to foreign workers who hold U.S. masters’ degrees or higher. [See: USCIS to Accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2011 Beginning April 1, 2010, March 8, 2010.] Likewise exempt from the cap are beneficiaries who work at universities and related nonprofit institutions, or at nonprofit or governmental research organizations. Special rules also apply to petitioners who will work only in Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

The USCIS says the number of petitions received will be tracked, and the public will be notified when the FY11 H1B cap is met. Until the recent downturn, H1B applications were filed with furious intensity as soon as the filing season opened, and the annual cap was reached in very short order. That pace slowed considerably during the recession, but with signs of economic recovery on the horizon, this year may well see an uptick in the pace of H1B filings. In any case, the filing rate of H1B applications will be watched closely, as a bellwether of our progress toward economic recovery.

General information about the FY11 H1B filing season is available on the USCIS WebSite, and from their National Customer Service Center by phone. Whether you are a foreign worker in a specialty occupation, seeking to work in the United States – a scientist, engineer, or computer programmer, for instance – or an American executive seeking to hire talented tech workers from overseas, there is no substitute for individualized legal counsel that is carefully tailored to the facts of your situation. For case-specific legal advice, contact the professionals at the Murthy Law Firm for a consultation.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.