Tuesday evening the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the annual allotment of new H-1B visas had been exhausted as of Monday, June 11, 2012. This represents the fastest pace at which companies have applied for these visas since the beginning of the Great Recession and now prohibits many employers from seeking to employ skilled and educated foreign workers in the U.S. Companies seeking to sponsor current H-1B visa holders and others who might be exempt from this annual cap may certainly continue to file petitions, but for most recent foreign national graduates new visas will be unavailable during the federal 2013 fiscal year of October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013. Absent Congressional action, companies and prospective employees will now have to wait to file for new H-1B visas until April 1, 2013.
To offer perspective on what happened with this 2012 rush, in the past three (3) years the annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas had been exhausted on these dates –
- FY 2011 – November 22, 2011
- FY 2010 – January 26, 2011
- FY 2009 – December 21, 2009
Currently it is unknown what factors went into triggering the rushed pace for 2012. The pace of the petitions historically has been an indicator of increased demand in the economy for skilled workers, particularly engineers and IT professionals. What is clear is that come early next year (2013) companies should be prepared to file petitions on the first day applications can be made – i.e. April 1, 2013, to ensure at least the chance of receiving an H-1B visa for their employee(s).
There are certainly other avenues and visas available for companies to pursue. The requirements of these other visas, however, is often prohibitive but should nevertheless be explored as an alternative might exist.
For questions regarding H-1B visas or other visa options available to you please contact Kevin Mosher at (651) 389-5007.