H-1B status is a temporary, work-authorized status for individuals working in "specialty occupations", which are occupations that require, at minimum, a bachelor's degree in a specialized area. The government limits the number of new H-1B approvals to 65,000 per fiscal year (and makes and additional 20,000 slots available to individuals with a master's or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education). This quota is referred to as the "H-1B cap" and, in most circumstances, only applies to individuals who are initially seeking H-1B status (it does not apply - in most instances - to individuals who have been in H-1B status and are seeking an extension or transfer to another employer). In addition, some employers are exempt from this H-1B cap (such as institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations, and government research organizations).
All of the H-1B slots for the current fiscal year have been used. However on April 1st we can begin filing applications for the next fiscal year (which begins October 1, 2010). With the exception of applications filed in 2009, over the past several years USCIS received more H-1B applications than slots available on the first available filing date, which subjects applications to a lottery system. Therefore, it is important to file your H-1B application on April 1st. Prior to filing the H-1B application, we must obtain an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA), from the Department of Labor (DOL). This application is filed electronically online and in the past, would be approved instantly. However, due to a new online system, the LCA approval is taking approximately one week to obtain. Therefore, due to this delay, H-1B applications take longer to prepare than in past years.
Please contact our office immediately if you wish to sponsor an individual for H-1B status.