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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) recently announced in a news release that they will begin accepting H-1B visa petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2011 cap on April 1, 2010. H-1B visas are commonly used in contract staffing to place foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.

Cases will be considered accepted on the date that USCIS takes possession of a properly filed petition with the correct fee, not the date that the petition is postmarked. The fiscal year cap (numerical limitation on H-1B petitions) for FY 2011 (the 12 months ended September 30, 2011) is 65,000. Additionally, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the H-1B cap.

Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap also do not count towards the congressionally mandated H-1B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:

– extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;

– change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;

– allow current H-1B workers to change employers; or

– allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

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