The good news is that reaching the 65,000 quota this early confirms a pick-up in the U.S. economy.  In the last 2-3 years, the annual quota for H-1B visas languished until the last months of the fiscal year.

H-1B petitions are accepted for filing April of each year.  Since the U.S. government’s fiscal year starts October 1 and ends September 30 of the next year, working visa petitions for the 65,000 quota of 2012 were filed April 1, 2011. 

Work visa petitions approved must not have an employment starting date earlier than October 1, 2011 since that is the start of the fiscal year.

Employers who filed work visa petitions for workers overseas who still have to go through application procedures at consular posts would have to ask current workers to take up the slack or accept other nonimmigrant visa holders in the U.S. such as Intra-company Transferees (L-1);  Exceptional Ability Workers in O categories; Treaty Investors or Treaty Traders (E-1 and E-1) who may wish to moonlight ; or workers in H-1B status who can work for another employer since the H-1B is portable; as well as foreign students who can work 20 hours a week while in school or those who have finished their course and are on the one-year practical course training period.

The employment situation has become a seller’s market, a trend that the Obama administration would gladly welcome as vindication of its “fiscal policy”.

Of the 65,000 total,  6,800 numbers  are set aside for Chile and Singapore under the free trade agreements with these two countries.  Another 20,000 H-1B visas are allocated (outside of the 65,000 quota) for applicants who obtained advanced degrees in the United States.

The announcement of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is reprinted from the USCIS website:

“On Nov. 23, 2011, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2012. USCIS is notifying the public that yesterday, Nov. 22, 2011, was the final receipt date for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2012.

Properly filed cases will be considered received on the date that USCIS physically receives the petition; not the date that the petition was postmarked. USCIS will reject cap-subject petitions for new H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in FY 2012 that arrive after Nov. 22, 2011. 

As of Oct. 19, 2011, USCIS had also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the ‘advanced degree’ exemption. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. In addition, petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted toward the FY 2012 H-1B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as scientists, engineers or computer programmers.”

For more information on how to file H-1B petitions and ensure the I-129 Petition includes the appropriate documents, please call the Immigrant Visa Center at +632-634-8717, or send your complete and updated resumes to immigrants@visacenter.org

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