H-1B Visa Update

In years past, the problem with H-1B visas was scarcity–too many visa applicants going after too few H-1B visas. Congress capped the annual number of available H-1B visas at 65,000. Although exceptions to the H-1B cap exist, this general restriction had a devastating effect on companies that depend on recruiting talented, educated foreign professionals with advanced degrees.

With the H-1B visa limits in mind, during immigration consultations in my Boston office, I’d typically advise immigration clients that if they didn’t submit their H-1B visa petition on the earliest possible moment–April 1–their prospects for success were subject to chance. I described the H-1B visa application as sort of like a lottery. An element of luck existed because even if your H-1B visa application was valid and deserved to be approved, who knew whether your petition would be fortunate enough to be selected? And in years past, H-1B visas were gone within days of becoming available.

But now that the economy has cratered and unemployment has shot up to nearly 10%, something astonishing has happened–H-1B visas are sitting on the shelf, there for the asking! As of May 18, 2009, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that 20,000 H-1B visas were still available. And today USCIS continues to accept H-1B visas petitions. USCIS will be posting updates periodically on visa availability. Who know when or even if the H-1B visas cap will be met?

So from these bad economic times comes some good news: H-1B visas appear to be still available. If you need a work visa either as an employer or an employee, give me a call in my Boston office at 617-722-0005. We can evaluate your immigration options and determine if an H-1B visa is appropriate for your case.