May 5, 2009
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a press release on May 4, 2009 confirming that only 45,000 H-1B petitions have been received out of an allotted 65,000 available this Fiscal Year 2010 for people holding Bachelor's degrees. USCIS also announced that they are still accepting applications to be counted toward the Advanced Degree (US Master's) cap.
Many people were anticipating that the H-1B filing window would be closed within the first week after April 1, 2009. Without a doubt, the decrease in H-1B applications we see today is due to the global economic crisis and high unemployment rates.
Years ago, the H-1B quota was rarely reached because the cap was 195,000 per fiscal year. Applicants and their employers had the opportunity to file H-1B applications year-round. Today's cap of 65,000 plus 20,000 advanced degree H-1Bs is less than half of what used to be allocated!
Yesterday's announcement confirms that applicants have a rare opportunity this year to pursue the option of an H-1B at a more comfortable pace. I always advise employers to take enough time to understand the responsibilities of sponsoring an H-1B and also, employees should also take the time to search for the right job offer, one that fits their long term goals. I often meet with clients before they have a final job offer in hand. I also speak with business owners and company HR representatives to answer their questions about the H-1b process and what to anticipate. These conversations do take time but luckily, this year, we seem to have time on our side. ---ecf