Tag Archives: april 1

H-1B Visa Season – Will You Get a US Visa This Year?

It is April 3 today and there has been no official announcement from the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) that any caps have been reached for the H-1B petitions filed from April 1, 2009 for FY2010.

However this is not entirely surprising given that the precedent of last year suggests that they will assess the US Masters degree holders first and then any spillover from the 20,000 available H-1B visas here will go into the wider pool of 65,000 H-1B visas and the probably H-1B Visa Lottery. We have actually documented a full description of the H-1B Visa FY2010 Quotas and probable process.

Of course the H-1B visa and US Immigration policy in general are hot topics in the news at the moment and some interesting facts have come to light that further dispels the myths spread by politicians, media and general ignorant fearmongers.

Microsoft, who is one of the consistent top employers of H-1B visas in terms of overall numbers have suggested due to economic reasons more than anything else they will submit fewer applications this year than in recent years. However also via their PR people have suggested they will still have a strong presence which will be part of an overall job growth for the company in 2009. Most of these hires will be US workers.

They went on to state in their advocacy for the H-1B visa, that while the number of visa holders is very small compared to the US workforce, their contribution is huge. Last year alone 35 per cent of Microsoft’s patent applications in the US came from new inventions by visa and green card holders. The situation at other US technology leaders is probably very similar.

He went on to say that a recent study, he argued, found that for every H-1B position requested, US technology companies increase their employment by five new jobs.

Of course you will never here esteemed politicians or elements of the media quote any of this in their blame the immigrant for all ills of society mentality.

The additional hysteria about Indian multi national companies dominating the H-1B visa numbers is also a moot point when you consider between 2006 to 2008, their share of H-1B visa declined 27%.

The Obama administration has been relatively quiet about the whole H-1B visa issue and probably for political reasons as much as anything else. However one course of action suggests they will continue to support the process as the Bush Administration did before it. The Bush administration’s moved to increase the amount of time foreign nationals with engineering, science and other technical degrees can work in the U.S. on student visas from one year to 29 months under the OPT (Occupational Practical Training) program following graduation has been supported by Obama’s administration in court cases by anti immigration advocacy groups in court.

No doubt the H-1B visa quota will be reached very soon and I wish all the applicants for FY2010 the best in their application and their dream to begin a new life in the US!! 🙂


H-1B Visa Quota Predictions For FY 2010

The H-1B visa is a non immigrant visa classification used by professional foreign nationals who will be employed temporarily by a U.S. employer in either a specialty occupation or as a fashion model. A foreign national can be in H1B status for a maximum period of six years at a time, generally granted in two increments of three years.

Current law limits the number of H1Bs to 65,000 foreign nationals each year. The first 20,000 H1B visas are issued to foreign nationals who obtained their Masters Degree here in the U.S. because they are exempt from the 65,000 cap; H1B visas issued to advanced degree foreign nationals beyond the first 20,000 are then counted against the overall 65,000 cap. Some U.S. Senators have proposed increasing the cap, but legislation has not yet been passed by Congress.

H1B visa renewals and H1B visa extensions of stay do not count towards the annual limits. H1B nonimmigrants who work at (but not necessarily for) universities and non-profit research facilities are also excluded from the numerical cap. Transfers of H1B visas among U.S. employers only count against the cap when the foreign national is changing jobs from a U.S. employer that is exempt from the limits (academia or research) to one that is not exempt (for-profit).

The first day of filing for H-1B visas for FY 2010 is April 1, 2009. If the foreign national is already in the U.S., they must stay in lawful non immigrant status until October 1, 2009 when the H1B visa becomes effective. Although a review of past years (FY2004-FY2009) shows a rapid depletion of the H1B quota every year, FY2008 and FY2009 (i.e., last two fiscal years) have seen the entire 65,000 H1B visa quota met on the very first day of filing. The annual cap for FY 2008 was exceeded on the first day of filing. A random lottery was held, consisting of cases filed on the first two days, as required by regulation. The separate H1B visa exemption quota of 20,000 for U.S. advanced-degree holders lasted only about one month after they first became available for FY2008.

In response to that situation, the procedures changed for FY 2009, as the government decided that there would be a lottery of the cases filed on the first five days of filing, if the cap was reached during any of those five days. The cap was again met on the first day. FY 2009 also saw the entire 20,000 U.S. advanced-degree H1B quota exemptions exhausted in one day.

The government announced that they received about 163,000 H1B visa applications last year, and approximately 31,200 of those were for the Masters Degree category. Advanced degree holders have a better chance of being selected in the H1B lottery than individuals who are seeking a regular H1B visa because the government first holds the lottery for the 20,000 advanced degree visas; applications that are not drawn as part of that selection process are then added to the pool of applications for the 65,000 regular H1B visas, giving the first-time losers a second shot at getting an H1B visa.

Based on what happened in the past, the 20,000 U.S. advanced-degree H1B quota exemptions may also be gone on the very first day of filing for FY2010. In addition, those who did not receive an H1B approval in the last two years will re-apply, adding pressure to the competition to obtain an H1B approval under the pending quota. It is clear from the past two years is that it is highly recommended to file cap-subject H1B cases on April 1st, 2009 in order to best compete for an H1B visa.

Guest Post Author

Danielle Homant Nelisse