Paul T. Shane
  IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY

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  300 Washington Street
  One Gateway Center
  Suite 350
  Newton
  MA 02458-2802
  Phone: 617-965-1553
              617-965-1136
  Fax: 617-965-9697
  Email:  
  paultshane@aol.com
  Web: paulshane.com
 
On April 1, 2008, the USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions for the Fiscal Year 2009 (October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009) for a start date of October 1, 2008. Last year, the regular H-1B cap for the entire fiscal year was reached during the first two days that applications were accepted and no regular H-1B visas were issued thereafter. A random lottery was held for the cases received on these first two days and only 50% of those who applied were able to secure an H-1B visa. Due to the pent up demand, we expect the regular H-1B cap for the 2009 Fiscal Year to be reached on the first day, April 1, 2008. Therefore, all H-1B petitions requesting a start date in the next year and a half must be filed by April 1, 2008.

Note that there is a separate H-1B cap for individuals who earned a Master's degrees or higher from a US accredited institution. The USCIS will also begin accepting H-1B petitions for the Master's cap starting April 1, 2008 (for an October 1, 2008 start date). Last year, this cap was reached approximately one month after applications were accepted. This year, we anticipate this cap will be reached within weeks or maybe even days. Thus, all H-1B petitions requesting a start date in the next year and a half for individuals who hold a U.S. Master's degree or higher should also be filed by April 1, 2008.

Please note that only new or change of status H-1B petitions are subject to the H-1B cap. Students presently employed with your company in Optional Practical Training (OPT) should file an H-1B petition by the April 1 deadline. Also, employees in the U.S. in a different status, such as TN, should also consider filing for the H-1B by the deadline.

However, employees currently in H-1B status who are filing to change employment or extend status are not subject to the cap. In addition, petitions for new employment are not subject to the cap if the individual will be employed at an institution of higher education or an affiliated nonprofit entity. Thus employees of other companies who already hold H-1B status, and seek to transfer to Old Mutual, are not subject to the visa limitations, and will be eligible to transfer (provided they have not used up their full six-year quota)
 
Please check your current employee situation with this in mind.