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Legal Updates

The Race is On – Plan Now for Fiscal Year 2009 H-1B Visas

Beginning April 1, 2008, employers may file petitions for H-1B visas on behalf of foreign nationals who are employed in specialty occupations that require the application of highly specialized knowledge and completion of a Bachelor’s degree or higher in the specialty occupation, for start work dates of October 1, 2008 (the beginning of fiscal year 2009) (“FY2009”), or later.  The annual cap on H-1B visas is 58,200 (6,800 additional H-1B visas are reserved for citizens of Chile and Singapore pursuant to treaty obligations, for a total cap of 65,000 visas annually).  Notably, the annual visa cap does not apply to H-1B visa transfers or foreign nationals in H-1B status who have pending applications for permanent residence and need to obtain annual extensions of their H-1B status until a determination is made regarding the application for permanent residence.

In addition, 20,000 additional visas are available during FY2009 to foreign nationals who hold an advanced degree from a U.S. academic institution (commonly referred to as “advanced degree” H-1B visas).  Employers should consider using this category of H-1B visa for candidates who meet the educational requirements of the advanced degree.

We strongly encourage employers to prepare new H-1B petitions promptly because the annual allotment of visas will likely be exhausted within the first day of filing eligibility.  Last year, the annual allotment was effectively exhausted the first day! The Firm intends to file all of our clients’ H-1B petitions for FY2009 on April 1, 2008, and we are requesting that clients provide all required documents to Schwartz Hannum PC no later than March 1, 2008.  We also suggest that all applications be filed “Premium Processing” to increase the likelihood of capturing an available visa.

We understand that this is an issue of significant and immediate concern to employers and we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or require any assistance.  The Firm regularly assists employers with preparing and processing employment-based non-immigrant and immigrant visa applications.  We welcome the opportunity to assist you or to answer any questions that you may have.