On May 19, 2006 USCIS released its numbers for the H-1B visa, a non-immigrant visa for degree holders seeking employment in what the service classifies as specialized occupations. The concern here is that the service can only issue some 58,200 H-1B visas (reduced from a total of 66,000 by treaty agreements) USCIS reports 6,934 H-1b applications approved which to the uneducated observer suggests there are still some 51,266 visas available. However new applications for H-1B visas must wait their turn and USCIS reports that there are some 35,942 visa applications PENDING. If these applications were approved then in theory there would be only 15,324 applications left leaving us dangerously near the 58,200 immigrant visa cap.
Historically there appears to be an acceleration of applications filed as it the cap is being reached. In addition by the time the USCIS reports its count of applications filed, this is an old count, it takes time to calculate and report the number of visa applications filed and so by May 19, 2006 there are in fact far more cases on file than the 42,876 applications reported by the Service.
The point is time is running out. If you and your employer are considering filing an H-1B visa petition you must see your attorney. More importantly, you must request from your attorney an H-1B checklist of supporting documents and provide your attorney with everything he or she needs to file your application. It is also important for you to talk with the paralegal and attorney who will be working on your case and confirm that they understand the urgency of your case. Everyone must work as a team in this application process, you, your employer, you paralegal and attorney.
Applicants should also be aware that their application once filed does not provide them with legal status in the United States unless it is approved and then only for work commencing in October 1, 2006. It is crucial that you consult the I-94 or other documents you may have indicating your approved period of stay in the United States to avoid a "gap" in your period of authorized presence in the United States.
Finally applicants with advanced degrees higher than that of a four years Bachelor's of Science or its equivalent may qualify for inclusion is a separate pool of H-1B applicants holding Masters or more advanced degrees.
If you are considering an H-1B the time is now to have that conversation with your employer and retain a competent attorney, if the cap is reached, you will be forced to file an application in April of 2007 for work that following October.
Robert J. DuPont is an attorney with the law firm of Wilner & O'Reilly, managing its Beverly Hills Office. Mr. DuPont is admitted to the California Supreme Court, and Federal District Courts in the Central and Northern Districts of California as well as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. DuPont is a member of the Beverly Hills Bar Association (BHBA) has been recently appointed Chair of the BHBA's Immigration Law Committee.
Mr. DuPont has successfully prosecuted several immigration cases through the Federal District Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which have resulted in positive changes to regulations, policies and practices of the Immigration Service. He currently assists clients seeking to immigrate through family petitions, employment, extraordinary ability in the arts, athletics, sciences and entertainment. Mr. DuPont is well known in the legal community for his work compelling action on delayed cases or wrongfully denied immigration cases in the U.S. District Court.