Alert: H-1B 2009 opens for applications on April 1st!

USCIS will start accepting applications for H-1B employment in 2009 on April 1, 2008, which is another three weeks from now. If one remembers last years chaos, the date had fallen on a Sunday and the first date of application had been pushed to Tuesday, which ended up being the only day after all, as more then 150,000 applications were submitted on the very first day for the 65,000 H1B visa slots.
This year also the indications are the quota will be filled with a day or two. Demands are also high this year for the 20,000 visa slots kept separate for applicants with U.S. master’s degrees. As we do every year, here are a few last minute tips.

Make sure the application reaches on April 1st

Even while we are keeping our fingers crossed, in all likelihood the quota will be reached on April 1st itself, just like in 2008. We would also like remind our readers that in that case, almost all the applicants will be sorted by a computerized lottery to pick applications that will be selected. However, if your application reaches on April 1st, at least your odds will be 1 in a 65,000 rather than none!

Make sure the documentation is complete in time

If employers are yet to have all documentations ready for their employees, we suggest they start hurrying up. Since the applications are not accepted before April 1st, most employers will courier them on Monday, March 31. So, employers should be ready with everything by that date.

Expect delays in receiving receipts

Last year USCIS had problems issuing receipts, with some employers receiving them and some needing to enquire about it over phone etc. Also, the Master’s quota was declared closed a few days after the quota was actually met. The lottery process itself was not held within the first week, as filing the cases into the computerized system took some days.

As USCIS has not issued any update about its preparation for handling the large number of applications expected, it is natural to expect similar problem this year too. 

Expect Premium Processing to be suspended

Following from our comments above, we also expect that USCIS is likely to suspend premium processing sometime during the processing period, just like last year. The excess applications make it difficult for agency to adhere to the 15-day processing deadline in PP

Make provisions in case multiple H-1B filings is disallowed

Though there has been no official notice from USCIS and we cannot confirm whether the agency will issue one before April 1st filings start, the agency is deliberating a regulation that will prohibit employers from filing more than one H-1B petition on behalf of a single foreign national. We suggest employers be ready to modify their application strategy for any such last minute changes.