Monday, February 21, 2011

Employer Immigration Employment Date Alert: April 1, 2011 begins the H-1B filing season


Charles and Terri Miller provide their 10 best planning tips for employers and employees, in advance of the April 1, 2011 USCIS H-1B filing season.

Employers use the H-1B visa category to employ nonimmigrant foreign workers who possess the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree for professional jobs each year. The first date that H-1B petitions will be accepted by the USCIS for employer filing for October 1, 2011 employment is April 1st.

In 2008 there was a USCIS random selection of the successful petitions for those numbers as well as the 20,000 additional numbers for the recipients of U.S. advanced degrees. While the current economic situation may reduce the number of petitions from 2008 record levels, it is unlikely that the low cap numbers will be sufficient for the current demand and that the cap will close sometime in the next fiscal year.
To maximize your chances for H-1B employment authorization, your company should consider the following:

1. Use an immigration lawyer with experience in successful H-1B filing.

2. U.S. advanced degree recipients’ petitions are placed in a more favorable pool of an additional 20,000 cap exempt numbers. There is also competition for those additional numbers as that cap was reached in the previous fiscal year.

3. Professionals from Chile or Singapore are given extra numbers, which are unlikely to be used up. Those H-1B1 petitions need special filing treatment and allow specialty professional jobs for qualified persons who have the threshold bachelors’ degrees.

4. Canadian and Mexican professionals also have specialty professional programs, allowing TN status without the need to compete for H-1B numbers. TNs are now eligible for a three year admission, providing flexibility for employers’ long-term employment strategy of the North American foreign professionals.

5. Australian professionals are eligible for E-3 professional visa status, a program which is not limited by the H-1B cap.

6. The O-1 category for aliens of extraordinary ability is a non-cap alternative for persons who have reached the highest level of accomplishment in their fields.

7. DHS now allows a 17 month extension of optional practical training from 12 to 29 months for F-1 students who major in specified science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) SEVIS authorized programs. The accepted employment must be with employers enrolled and considered by the CIS to be in good standing in the E-Verify program. The successful STEM OPT extension, with the approval of the school’s DSO and the proper and timely filing of the extension, may represent a bridge to an opportunity for the unsuccessful applicant’s next opportunity for successful H-1B petition.

8. A qualified institution of higher education or research non-profit organization is exempt from the H-1B cap and can sponsor a H-1B visa at any time of the year these include: an institution of higher education; related or affiliated to a higher education institution nonprofit entity, and a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization.

9. Duration of status and any post-completion OPT work authorization is automatically extended for an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition requesting change of status and an employment start date of October 1, 2011.

10. Some foreign-based and educated persons will qualify for up to 18 months employment in qualified training programs through J-1 sponsorship.

For further information about the Miller Law Offices immigration benefit legal services, please contact Charles Miller or Terri Miller at (818) 508-9005 or direct your E-mail to Charles Miller