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Immigration News - July 31, 2006

July 31, 2006

By Immigration Practice Group

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2007 H-1B Cap for U.S. Advanced Degree Graduates Officially Reached

* SAVE THE DATE - Important Immigration Seminar on September 27 & 28

2007 H-1B Cap for U.S. Advanced Degree Graduates Officially Reached

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced late on Friday, July 28th that the FY 2007 H-1B cap on H-1Bs issued to graduates of U.S. advanced degree programs has been reached. There is an annual cap of 20,000 on H-1Bs for graduates of U.S. advanced degree programs. USCIS has set Wednesday, July 26, 2006 as the cutoff date for H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2007 U.S. advanced degree cap. USCIS will use a random selection process to select those petitions received on Wednesday, July 26th which will be considered to fall within the cap, and therefore accepted and adjudicated. The remainder of the petitions from July 26th, and those received thereafter, will be rejected.

As noted in an earlier Client Alert, the general 65,000 FY 2007 H-1B visa cap was reached on May 26, 2006. A limited H-1B cap exemption remains available for nationals of Chile and Singapore, but with the exception of those petitions, the reaching of the FY 2007 U.S. advanced degree cap means that no cap-subject H-1B petitions can be filed until April 1, 2007. Those petitions will be able to request an H-1B visa for H-1B employment beginning on or after October 1, 2007, which is the start of FY 2008.

Petitions for current H-1B workers do not count towards the H-1B cap. Employers therefore are still able to file H-1B petitions to extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States, to change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers, to allow current H-1B workers to change employers, or to allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position. In addition, petitions for new H-1B employment are exempt from the annual cap if the alien will be employed at an institution of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, or at a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization.

The reaching of the U.S. advanced degree cap on July 26th, together with the reaching of the regular FY 2007 H-1B cap on May 26th, leaves most employers with a 14-month blackout on the availability of H-1B visas for critically needed high-skilled workers. This highlights the tremendous need for meaningful immigration reform, including a significant increase in the H-1B cap. The comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate, S. 2611, would modernize the H-1B supply dramatically. The House immigration bill, H.R. 4437, would leave the H-1B crisis exactly as it is today. To learn more about how your company can become involved in promoting high-skilled immigration reform, contact Paul Hastings.

The USCIS press release is attached.

SAVE THE DATE - Important Immigration Seminar on September 27 & 28

The Global Personnel Alliance (GPA) and Paul Hastings will sponsor a seminar on Global Immigration and Employment Issues, to be held in Washington, D.C. on September 27 & 28.  The seminar will focus on the major developments over the past year and will feature speakers from Capitol Hill, the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security. Registration information will be distributed shortly.

Immigration News is published solely for the interests of friends and clients of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP and should in no way be relied upon or construed as legal advice. For specific information on recent developments or particular factual situations, the opinion of legal counsel should be sought. Paul Hastings is a limited liability partnership. Copyright © 2006 Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP.