Last year, the H-1B cap was reached after a one-week filing window starting April 1st. CIS received over 143,000 petitions for the basic quota, and 31,000 for the Masters Cap, resulting in a lottery selection process. The 11,000 not selected for the Masters level H-1B cap were returned to the basic pool and had “two bites at the apple.”
This year, we expect another lottery for both categories. Due to the recession, petition volume is expected to be significantly reduced, with perhaps a better than 65% success rate for the basic group and a 90% success rate for the advanced degree holders. An employer may only submit one petition per candidate.
Employers should review their 2009/2010 employment needs to determine the benefits of participating in this year’s H-1B cycle. Although the start date on the petition must be October 1, 2009, an approval is good for three years and the employment may actually begin later. Of particular concern are current employees with expiring status: F-1 OPT Practical Trainee, TN TradeNAFTA or J-1 Practical Trainee.
The quota does not apply to foreign nationals who currently have H-1B status and seek to extend their status, or change employers. Citizens of Chile , Singapore and Australia have separate H-1B/E-3 quotas, which have never been exhausted and which remain open year-round.