Saturday, March 1, 2008

New Regulations to Prohibit H-1B Duplicate Filings

New regulations prepared by USCIS to prevent duplicate filings of H-1B "lottery" petitions have been cleared for publication by the Office of Management and Budget. (OMB). The action clears the way for the April 1st lottery, under which an estimated 200,000 applications are expected to flood the two regional USCIS office for 65,000 professional worker visas.

The regulation deals with the problem of duplicate applications, which some employers filed last year in order to increase the likelihood of being selected in the lottery. Although immigration officials have repeatedly stated that such applications will be rejected this year, the regulation was required to enforce that position.

The H-1B visa category is established for foreign professional workers coming to the United States to perform professional work at a prevailing wage established by the U.S. Department of Labor. Congress has allocated a total of 65,000 new H-1B visas each year for new applicants. The fiscal year begins on October 1st and new applications can be filed no more than 6 months prior to the anticipated start date. Thus April 1st is the earliest possible day to file applications for new foreign workers to begin work October 1st. Once the cap is reached, further applications are returned to the employer without being adjudicated. Last year USCIS received over 120,000 on the very first day and a computer generated lottery was instituted.

Because it is imperative that the applications arrive on April 1st, employers are advised to use a delivery service such as FedEx rather than the U.S. Postal Service. Not only are the delivery services more reliable, but they will deliver the application directly to the service center. USPS on the other hand delivers the documents to the local post office and may not arrive at USCIS until the following day.

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