Immigration Alert: USCIS Announces Interim Rule on Cap-Subject H-1B Visas for Fiscal Year 2009

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On March 19, 2008, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an interim rule updating the existing rules governing the H-1B visa program. These rule changes primarily affect the implementation of the random H-1B cap lottery system, and also clarify USCIS’s policy regarding multiple H-1B petitions for the same H-1B worker.

As you may already know, Congress has placed a numerical “cap,” or limit, on H-1B visas of 65,000 (58,200 + 6,800 for nationals of Chile and Singapore) each year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for applicants holding U.S. master’s degrees or higher. All H-1B visas are gone for this current fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and employers may file for fiscal year 2009 H-1B visas commencing April 1, 2008 (for validity beginning on October 1, 2008). For fiscal year 2008, the number of H-1B applicants was double the number of visas available,

so USCIS used a random “lottery” system to determine which petitions would be accepted (and thus counted toward the numerical cap). For 2009, see full Alert.

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