According to the United
States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS),
H-1B numbers for Fiscal Year 2006 and FY2005 H-1B
numbers for those holding a U.S. Master's or higher
degree) remain available as of this writing.
Unofficial reports from USCIS indicate that H-1B
petitions have in fact come in more slowly than
originally expected. All the same, USCIS continues to
predict that the FY2006 H-1B annual numerical limit
(set at 65,000) will be reached before October 1, 2005.
No prediction was made as to whether the extra 20,000 FY2005 H-1B numbers for U.S.
master's or higher degree
holders will be reached before the end of this fiscal
Once the FY2006 cap is reached, no new cap-subject
petitions may be approved with a start date prior to the
next government fiscal year, FY2007, which is October
1, 2006. Further, as new H-1B visa petitions may not be
filed earlier than six months prior to the requested
start date, H-1B petitions for the fiscal year
commencing October 1, 2006 cannot be filed prior to
April 1, 2006.
However, bear in mind that the annual numerical limit of
65,000 mainly applies to "new" petitions (i.e., those
filed on behalf of prospective specialty occupation
professionals who are being accorded H-1B nonimmigrant
classification for the first time) for "non-exempt"
Common examples of new H-1B petitions are those filed on
behalf of individuals who are presently residing abroad
and who will be entering the U.S. to commence H-1B
employment, or H-1B petitions filed for those
individuals who are in the U.S. in a different
nonimmigrant status (i.e., F-1 student, J-1 exchange
Many H-1B petitions will be unaffected by the annual
numerical limit. For example, extensions of H-1B stay
with the same employer, H-1B petitions filed by a new
employer for an individual already in H-1B status
(unless the individual was never issued an H-1B
"number"), amended H-1B petitions filed because of
changes in job duties/job site, and petitions for
concurrent H-1B employment are all exempt from the
annual H-1B cap. Also "exempt" are certain H-1B
employers, including nonprofit and governmental research
organizations, academic institutions, and their
affiliated nonprofit organizations.
Jackson & Hertogs will continue to provide updates on
the availability of H-1B numbers as news develops.