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Immigration News Flash

April 18, 2006

USCIS Issues First H-1B Cap Report for FY2007

Is your company racing to get your H-1bs filed? Are you concerned that the cap will be reached earlier than last year? The USCIS reported that as of April 3, 2006, the first day USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year 2007 (with a start date of October 1, 2006), 1,631 cases subject to the 65,000 quota had been filed of which 76 had been approved. The report also showed that 340 cases subject to the 20,000 quota had been filed of which 9 had been approved.

The new FY2007 quota available allows for a total of 65,000 cases for bachelorís degree holders, including 6,800 set aside for beneficiaries from Singapore and Chile under the Free Trade Agreement. There is also an additional 20,000 numbers available for beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master's degree or higher in the field. Petitions to extend status for current H-1B workers do not count towards the cap, along with petitions to change the terms of employment, to change employers, or to work concurrently in a second H-1B position. Another type of cap-exempt case includes petitions for aliens who will be employed at an institution of higher education, a nonprofit entity related to an institution of higher education, or at a research organization that is either governmental or nonprofit.

So what does this mean? Well, it seems too early to tell how quickly the numbers will be used up but we estimate it will be sooner than last year. Last fiscal year, the cap was met in August for those applying for an H-1B with a bachelorís degree and the cap was met in January for those applying with masterís degrees.

We urge you to initiate all new H-1B filings as soon as possible, including for those individuals working on student visas with Optional Practical Training, to ensure that an H-1B number will be available at the time of filing under the FY2007 quota. We continue to work with our clients and legislative leaders in Congress to achieve relief for companies who have been negatively impacted by the lack of availability of foreign talent to augment their U.S. based workforce.