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H-1B holders, outside of U.S. for one year, who did not exhaust 6 year term, can opt to use remainder of 6 years to avoid cap.

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The USCIS has announced that after completing a policy review that it was clarifying that to avoid H-1B QUOTA, individuals who spent one year outside of U.S. and did not exhaust entire six year term can CHOOSE to be re-admitted for “remainder” of initial six-year period without being subject to H-1B cap.  The new policy was announced in a USCIS Interoffice Memorandum from Michael Aytes, Associate Director, Domestic Operations, to all Regional Directors and Service Center Directors, dated December 5, 2006.  The USCIS Memorandum stated:

C. H-1B “Remainder” Option

Section 214(g)(4) of INA provides that “the period of authorized admission as [an H-1B] nonimmigrant may not exceed 6 years.” INA section 214(g)(7) provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

Any alien who has already been counted within the 6 years prior to the approval of a petition described in subsection (c), toward the numerical limitations of paragraph (1)(A) shall not again be counted toward those limitations unless the alien would be eligible for a full 6 years of authorized admission at the time the petition is filed. Where multiple petitions are approved for 1 alien, that alien shall be counted only once.

In AAO Adopted Decision 06-0001, USCIS has confirmed that the six-year period of maximum authorized admission accrues only during periods when the alien is lawfully admitted and physically present in the United States.

8 CFR 214.2(h)(13)(i) provides that when an alien has reached the maximum period of admission, a new petition may be approved only if the alien has remained outside the United States for one year. The statute, regulations, and current policy guidance, however, do not clearly address situations where an alien did not exhaust his or her maximum six-year period of admission.

There have been instances where an alien who was previously admitted to the United States in H-1B status, but did not exhaust his or her entire period of admission, seeks readmission to the United States in H-1B status for the “remainder” of his or her initial six-year period of maximum admission, rather than seeking a new six-year period of admission. Pending the AC21 regulations, USCIS for now will allow an alien in the situation described above to elect either (1) to be re-admitted for the “remainder” of the initial six-year admission period without being subject to the H-1B cap if previously counted or (2) seek to be admitted as a “new” H-1B alien subject to the H-1B cap.

Specifically, the “remainder” period of the initial six-year admission period refers to the full six-year period of admission minus the period of time that the alien previously spent in the United States in valid H-1B status. For example, an alien who spent five years in the United States in H-1B status (from January 1, 1999 - December 31, 2004), and then remained outside the United States for all of 2005, could seek to be admitted in January 2006 for the “remainder” of the initial six-year period, i.e. a total of one year. If the alien was previously counted toward the H-1B numerical limitations in relation to the time that has accrued against the six-year maximum period of admission, the alien would not be subject to the H-1B cap. If the alien was not previously counted against the H-1B numerical limitations (i.e. because cap-exempt), the alien will be counted against the H-1B cap unless he or she is eligible for another exemption.

In the alternative, admission as a “new” H-1B alien refers to a petition filed on behalf of an H-1B alien who seeks to qualify for a new six-year admission period (without regard to the alien’s eligibility for any “remaining” admission period) after having been outside the United States for more than one year. For example, the alien who spent five years in the United States in H-1B status (from January 1, 1999 - December 31, 2004), and then remained outside the United States for all of 2005, is eligible to apply for a “new” period of H-1B status based on his or her absence of at least one year from the United States. Most petitioners electing this option will seek a three-year H-1B petition approval, allowing for the possibility of later seeking a three-year H-1B extension. “New” H-1B aliens are subject to the H-1B numerical limitations unless they qualify for an exemption. See INA §§ 214(g)(1) and (g)(5).

Note: The burden of proof rests with the alien to show that he or she has been outside the United States for one year or more and is eligible for a new six-year period, or that he or she held H-1B status in the past and is eligible to apply for admission for the H-1B “remainder” time. Petitions should be submitted with documentary evidence of previous H-1B status such as Form I-94 arrival-departure records, I-797 Approval notices and/or H-1B visa stamps.

Important note:  of course, to be able to avoid being counted under the H-1B cap, one must have been previously COUNTED.  Hence, individuals who held H-1B status but were never counted under the H-1B cap (e.g., if one worked for a non-profit organization affiliated with an insitution of higher eduction), then one would still have to be counted.

Search for H1B Visa Employers

You can search for "H1B Visa Employers" using this database, which was compiled by Antao & Chuang, Attorneys at Law from government sources. This database identifies those U.S. employers who have filed for H-1B visas in the past, or who have at least started the process by filing for the LCA. If you find an employer you are interested in, you can then contact them to inquire as to whether they have any current job openings in your field. Please tell your friends about this valuable resource.

Use this form to search for H1B Visa employers.

"FMG Friendly" Employers

Foreign Medical Graduates ("FMGs") should be aware that there are "FMG Friendly" employers, and "FMG Unfriendly" employers. This database (compiled by Antao & Chuang, Attorneys at Law from government sources) identifies those U.S. employers who have filed for H-1B visas for foreign medical graduates in the past (or at least started the process by filing for the LCA), and who can therefore be deemed "FMG Friendly". Please tell your colleagues about this valuable resource.

Use this form to search for "FMG Friendly" employers in a given state.

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