A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H-1B Visa Cap Reached -- New Immigration Bill

H-1B Visa Cap Reached and New Immigration Bill

On April 5, 2013, 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 for fiscal year (FY) 2014.  USCIS has also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption category. USCIS was still counting the number of applications received as of April 5 but the agency has stopped accepting new applications after that date.

On Monday, April 8, 2013, USCIS further announced that it has received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, including both regular cap and advanced degree petitions.  It also confirmed that a random selection process or “lottery” was conducted on April 7, 2013 to select cases for further processing. The agency first conducted a lottery to select 20,000 petitions from among the pool of advanced degree petitions received for further processing.  All advanced degree petitions not selected were then grouped together with the other regular H-1B petitions for a second drawing, in which 65,000 were then selected to fill the regular cap.

USCIS will be sending out notices to all H-1B petitioners and their attorneys soon. H-1B applicants should stay tuned for further information.  Lucky winners of the visa lottery should receive a receipt notice, Form I-797, with a case number.  If a case was not selected for further processing, the petition along with all supporting documents would be returned to the employer or attorney with a notice.

New Immigration Bill Expected

Separately, two senior Senators have announced that a comprehensive immigration reform proposal is likely to be completed this week.  A partisan group of senators known as the “gang of eight” have been working together for several months to put this new proposal together.  The new bill, in addition to border security provisions, is expected to contain an “earned pathway” for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens.  It is also expected to create a temporary guest worker program to allow foreign workers to work in the U.S. temporarily. 

The new proposal is also expected to provide faster and more efficient mechanisms for high-tech and other skilled workers to obtain work visas and permanent resident status.  Currently, the H-1B program is limited by an annual visa cap.  For instance, employers who fail to secure a visa number this year for an H-1B worker must wait another 18 months before securing the services of skilled foreign worker.  In the fast-changing business world, 18 months could mean light years.  Similarly, it could take up to 10 years or longer for certain foreign skilled workers or managers to apply for a green card under the current system.   The new bill is expected to address these issues as well. However, until it is finally passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, this new bill will only be a proposal and should not be relied upon. 

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