The following is not legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. For advice on your unique situation, please contact a qualified immigration lawyer.
Despite the dreadful state of the economy, H-1B season is fast-approaching. Over the past few years the demand for H-1Bs has far exceeded the supply, will the trend continue this year? Or will H-1Bs remain available throughout the year?
Considering that there were two or three cap-subject petitions filed for every available visa over the past couple of years, my guess is that the allocated visas will be used up, but perhaps not within the first week as has been the trend.
If U.S. workers have been laid off, additional considerations come into play that may affect the Labor Condition Application and thus the ability of some employers to file a petition. However, a more common scenario may simply be that the employers do not need the foreign workers.
Despite what anti-immigrants say, hiring H-1B nonimmigrants is frequently more expensive than hiring U.S. workers because the H-1B nonimmigrants must be paid the greater of either the prevailing wage or the actual wage paid to similarly situated workers. When legal and filing fees are taken into account (filing fees currently range from $320 for some Training-Fee Exempt H-1B extension petitions to $3320 for some new H1Bs that are filed using the USCIS Premium Processing Service), companies that choose to legally hire certain nonimmigrants, most likely need these workers.
Given the current economic environment, some employers will understandably look to minimize expenses by hiring qualified U.S. Workers who will accept the positions without al the additional restrictions, paperwork and costs associated with hiring H-1B nonimmigrants.
I will blog about anecdotal evidence from our firm and others as to what the demand for H-1Bs seems to be for the next fiscal year.
If your company does plan to hire cap-subject nonimmigrant workers, you should still file as soon as permitted, which is April 1, 2009 with a start date of October 1, 2009. You should consult an immigration lawyer sooner rather than later to ensure that all of the requirements are satisfied and the documents are in order. Late March will be too late to address these issues.