Opening of U.S. H-1B cap season to kick off hiring of foreign workers

By Alex P. Vidal/PNS

US-based companies may resume hiring foreign workers in specialty occupations as the United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the opening of H-1B fiscal year 2010 cap season.

Foreign workers that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers can avail of the H-1B program to be used by American employers, announced the USCIS.

The USCIS uses the information provided in Part C of the H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement to determine whether a petition is subject to the 65,000 H-1B numerical limitation (the “cap”).

Some petitions are exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption provided to the first 20,000 petitions filed for a beneficiary who has obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher, USCIS explained.

The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000.

USCIS said not all H-1B non-immigrants are subject to this annual cap. Up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the cap of 65,000 during each fiscal year for the H-1B1 program under the terms of the legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements.

Unused numbers in this pool are made available for H-1B use for the next fiscal yea

“We will begin accepting H-1B petitions that are subject to the FY 2012 cap on April 1, 2011. You may file an H-1B petition no more than 6-months in advance of the requested start date,” USCIS announced.

Petitions seeking an FY 2012 H-1B cap number with an Oct. 1, 2011 start date can be filed no sooner than April 1, 2011, it added.

USCIS stressed that petitions of those who request a start date for a FY 2012 cap-subject H-1B petition prior to Oct. 1, 2011 or submit a cap-subject petition prior to April 1, 2011, will be rejected.

The following must be complied to ensure that a petition is properly filed:

-Complete all sections of the Form I-129 petition, including the H Classification Supplement to Form I-129 and the H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement. Form I-129 with a revision date of November 23, 2010, or later will be accepted.

-Original signatures, preferably in blue ink, are required on each form.

-Include a signed check or money order with the correct fee amount.

-Ensure that all required documentation and evidence is submitted with the petition at the time of filing to ensure timely processing.

Petitioners must submit a certified Department of Labor (DOL) LCA (Form ETA 9035) at the time of filing your petition. A copy of the LCA is acceptable.

USCIS said it encourages petitioners to keep DOL LCA processing times in mind when preparing the H-1B petition and plan accordingly. If the LCA certified by DOL is for multiple positions, petitioners must provide the name and USCIS case receipt number of any alien who has previously utilized the LCA.

Petitioners should ensure that they have signed the LCA prior to the LCA being submitted with the petition to USCIS.

Petitioners must submit evidence of the beneficiary’s educational degree at the time of filing. If all of the requirements for the degree have been met, but the degree has not yet been awarded, the following alternate evidence may be submitted: A copy of the beneficiary’s final transcript; or a letter from the Registrar confirming that all of the degree requirements have been met (if the educational institution does not have a Registrar, such letter must be signed by the person in charge of the educational records where the degree will be awarded).

If a petitioner is indicating that the beneficiary is qualified based on a combination of education and experience, he must provide substantiating evidence at time of filing.