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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Bloggings on Updates in Immigration Law

by Carl Shusterman

Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Carl Shusterman's blog.

April 29, 2009

H-1B Advice for Students and Their Employers

USCIS statistics reveal that only 1,000 H-1B "cap-subject" petitions were submitted each week during the second, third and fourth weeks of April.  See http://shusterman.com/toc-h1b.html#1
 
At this rate, there will be H-1Bs available until sometime in September.  However, I do not believe that this will be the case.  Why not?
 
Because, there are hundreds of thousands of F-1 students in the U.S.  Many of these students will graduate from U.S. universities this June, and seek to work in the U.S. 
 
Regarding employment in the U.S., these students should consider the following:
 
1. They may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).  This is a fancy term for a one-year work permit.  Under certain circumstances, the term of OPT may be extended for an additional 17-months.  See http://shusterman.com/toc-student.html#3
 
2. If the student's job offer requires a university degree of the type that he/she possesses and if the employer pays them at the prevailing wage, the employer can petition them for H-1B status as soon as the student obtains the required degree.  Savvy employers will hire the student initially on OPT and ask the USCIS to change the student's status to H-1B beginning on October 1, 2009.
 
Why should students seek H-1B status in 2009 if their OPT work permits are valid until 2010?
 
The principle reason is that this year there are almost 20,000 H-1B slots that are up for grabs.  Last year, employers submitted so many H-1B petitions that an individual's chance of obtaining H-1B status was only about 50%.  The same thing could happen in 2010 leaving many students high and dry.
 
I predict that the H-1B petition submissions will rise significantly in June.  Therefore, F-1 students who wish to work in the U.S. need to plan ahead. 
 
When is a good time for their future employers to seek the approval of labor condition applications and prepare H-1B petitions for submission to the USCIS? 
 
A good time would be now.