On April 1, 2010, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting new H-1B visa applications for employment that will begin on October 1, 2010. The H-1B visa is a very popular choice for companies who want to hire foreign workers to fill a "professional" or "specialty occupation" position requiring a minimum of a bachelor's degree or the equivalent.
There are 65,000 H-1B visas available each year, with an additional 20,000 H-1B visas reserved for holders of U.S. master's or higher degrees. Although USCIS normally reaches the quota in the first week of filing in previous years, the quota in 2009 was not filled until December 2009. Since we anticipate that the H-1B visa numbers will be filled more quickly this year as the economy starts to recover, an April 1st target date for filing H-1B applications will increase the chances of a successful H-1B petition.
To meet the target filing date of April 1st, it is recommended that employers start evaluating their needs for H-1B workers now. Unlike previous years, there is no longer the possibility of one-day approval from USDOL for Labor Condition Applications – which are required in order to file the H-1B petition with USCIS. The USDOL is generally taking seven days to process Labor Condition Applications and it is expected that this processing time will increase as employers prepare to file the H-1B applications.
Possible candidates for H-1B visas are current employees or potential new hires now working in F-1, J-1, L-1 and TN categories whose employment authorization will expire before October 2011.