Category: Archive

Special visa quota met

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

The Celtic Tiger is not the only one crying out for certain skilled workers. So, too, is Uncle Sam, so much so that the quota for temporary speciality worker visas for the U.S. has been reached for fiscal year 1999, more than three months early for the second successive year.

No more H1-B visas can now be issued until after Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year begins, according to the Emerald Isle Immigration Center.

Although statistics have not been completed for visas allocated this year, John Stahl, of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York, said that for the first half of fiscal year 1999, Ireland was not among the top 10 countries to be awarded the most visas. The U.K. was among the top 10.

The H1-B is a temporary visa category for non-immigrant workers that includes speciality occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher. H1-B occupations include engineers, architects, accountants, doctors and professors. Visa recipients may work in the U.S. for three years and the visa may be extended for another three years.

In 1998, the annual cap of 65,000 for H1-B workers was reached in May. In response to significant lobbying pressure from the high-tech computer related industries, Congress raised the number of H1-B visas available annually to 115,000 for fiscal years 1999 and 2000, and to 107,500 for fiscal year 2001, according to the EIIC.

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As of May 31 this year, the Immigration and Materialization Service had approved 108,386 H1-B visa petitions.

However, the INS will continue to process petitions filed for current H1-B workers, since they are not subject to the quota. Such applications would include petitions to extend stay, amend terms of employment, or change employers for current H1-B workers.

Despite the quota for this fiscal year having already been reached, H1-B petitions may still be submitted at any time requesting employment beginning on or after Oct. 1 next, the start of fiscal year 2000. All initial H1-B petitions received on or after June 15, this year, requesting employment in fiscal year 1999 will be returned to the petitioner.

"They may apply for employment with a starting date after Oct. 1," Stahl said.

To accommodate certain foreign students and exchange visitors already in the U.S. awaiting approval of a H1-B petition, the INS has issued a regulation permitting F visa holders and J visa holders to remain in the U.S. while they await for the H1-B visas to become available on Oct. 1, 1999. F and J visa holders may not, however, violate the terms of their visa status or work in the U.S.

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