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USCIS Indicates Likelihood of H-1B Lottery

Based upon recent updates to the USCIS online website, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service is anticipating receiving more than 65,000 H-1B applications within the first week of H-1B filing. The first day that an H-1B can be properly filed is April 1, 2013, which almost necessitates that any individual seeking to be included in the fiscal cap ensure that his/her application be received on this date. Simply having the filing mailed on this day may be insufficient, as the H-1B Cap may be reached by April 2, 2013. This announcement is a dark reminder to the 2008 H-1B filing season, in which USCIS received almost four times as many applications as visas available, resulting in a lottery system for those H-1B applicants. Individuals not chosen in the H-1B lottery were left with relatively few options to pursue, resulting in the departure of signficant amounts of educated and talented individuals from the United States.

A source of potential remedy for this problem could be in the hands of Congress, which can increase the H-1B cap number. Current media reports indicate that Comprehensive Immigration Reform proposals have discussed increasing the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000, but the liklihood of such an increase by April 1st is virtually nil. This places signficant importance on ensuring that an application filed for a prospective employee is not only complete, but properly filed, as the stakes in this H-1B fiscal year cannot be higher.

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