On June 12, 2008, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association that the H-1B random selection process has been completed. USCIS completed the intake and receipt processes for all filings as of May 24, 2008 and began mailing rejection notices the week of June 9. Therefore, if an employer has not yet received a filing confirmation (Form I-797C Notice of Action), it likely means that the petition was not selected in the random process and that the rejection notice will be forthcoming.
Individuals whose petitions were rejected still may have some planning options available to remain in the United States and/or continue working. For F-1 students with “STEM” degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), if they are or will be employed by an employer that participates in the “E-Verify” employment eligibility verification system, they can request an additional 17 months of Optional Practical Training work authorization. Whether an employer wishes to participate in E-Verify requires careful consideration, as there are pros and cons depending upon the size and nature of the employer’s workforce.
Other planning options for individuals may include pursuing or continuing graduate studies, converting to a dependent immigration status (such as F-2 or H-4) if there is a qualifying spouse, or pursuing TN work authorization for eligible Canadian or Mexican citizens.
If there is no other viable current option, there still remains the opportunity to file another H-1B April 1, 2009 for the next fiscal year (October 1, 2009 – September 30, 2010). In the meantime, employers that have been negatively impacted by the limited number of H-1B visas may wish to contact their congressional representatives to encourage increasing the quota as part of meaningful immigration reform.