Update on H-1B Visas

H-1B Professional Specialty Worker Cap Update: As October 1 marked the beginning of the new fiscal year, visas are now immediately available for new H-1B cap-subject petitions. As of October 7th, USCIS reports that 41,000 new H-1B cap-subject petitions were receipted and another 19,100 petitions for foreign nationals with advanced degrees for FY2012. There are 85,000 new H-1B visas available annually, of which 20,000 are designated for advanced degree holders.  For FY2011, H-1B visas became unavailable as of January 26, 2011.

Tough Penalties Levied Against School District in Maryland for H-1B Violations Become Final:  A Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge approved a settlement agreement with Maryland’s Prince George’s County School District (PGCSD), located in the Washington, D.C. metro area, to pay sizeable fines for major violations of the H-1B program, including failure to pay wages and to maintain documentation as required. Under the agreement, PGSCD is barred from hiring any new foreign workers for two years and must pay a civil penalty of more than $100,000 for violating the H-1B program and over $4 million in back wages to more than 1,000 teachers.

Over the last several years, government agencies involved with the H-1B program have stepped up their enforcement and auditing efforts. Employers and their human resource personnel are wise to make sure their public access files and other records relating to their H-1B employees are up to date and in good order.

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