Special Immigration Alert: New H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Season Starts April 2, 2012 .

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Remember that all new H-1B petitions must be filed on March 30, 2012, to ensure that they are counted toward the 2013 H-1B cap.

The annual H-1B season has arrived! The federal government is authorized by statute to approve only 65,000 new H-1B visas each fiscal year, plus an additional 20,000 H-1B visas set aside for applicants who have master's degrees from accredited American universities. The federal government's fiscal year begins on October 1, but the governing regulations permit employers to apply for new H-1B non-immigrant visas up to six months in advance. Hence, the filing date is March 30, 2012.

For the past three years, the H-1B cap has not been met on the first day. Prior to that, the government received substantially more H-1B petitions than the quota allowed and conducted a "lottery" to determine the cases selected. The format for this lottery has varied and has not been announced for this year. Generally, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service ("USCIS") logs new H-1B petitions according to the date on which they arrive. When the projected volume exceeds the quota, USCIS conducts a random lottery for all H-1B petitions properly filed on the date the quota was reached.

Please see full alert below for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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