On April 1, 2010, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting new H-1B visa applications for employment that will begin on October 1, 2010. The H-1B visa is a popular choice for companies planning to hire a foreign worker to fi ll a “professional” or “specialty occupation” position requiring a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent.

There are 65,000 H-1B visas available each year in addition to 20,000 H-1B visas reserved for holders of U.S. master’s degrees or higher. Although USCIS reached the quota in the fi rst week of fi ling in previous years, the quota this past year was not fi lled until December 2009. However, we anticipate that the H-1B visa numbers will be fi lled more quickly this year as the economy starts to recover. Consequently, an April 1 target date for fi ling H-1B petitions will increase your chances of obtaining one of the H-1B visa numbers.

To meet a target fi ling date of April 1, we recommend that you start the application process now. Unlike previous years, there is no longer the possibility of one-day approval from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for Labor Condition Applications—which are required in order to fi le the H-1B petition with USCIS. The DOL is generally taking seven days to process Labor Condition Applications, and we expect this processing time to increase as employers prepare to fi le H-1B petitions.

Possible candidates for H-1B visas include current employees or potential new hires now working in student (F-1 or J-1) status whose employment authorization will expire before October 2011.

Please contact your Vedder Price attorney or a member of our Business Immigration Practice Group should you have any questions regarding this issue.