U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers. The beneficiary of the visa must have at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and the degree must be related to the job being offered.
H-1B visas are subject to a yearly cap of currently 65,000, subject to some exemptions, such as for beneficiaries who obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher. The resetting of the cap marks the beginning of the new filing season.
In 2011, the cap was reached on November 22. Any cap-subject petitions that arrived after this date were rejected. In 2009 and previous years, however, the cap was reached within the first few days of the filing season. Petitions were subjected to a random lottery.
It is difficult to guess when the cap will be reached. Generally speaking, the better the economy, the quicker the cap is reached. With the economy slowly gaining momentum, it is best to submit H-1B visa petitions as early as possible to be on the safe side.
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Reinhard von Hennigs