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H1-B Numbers are Running Out

US Immigration Question:

I am a Japanese F-1 student currently working under "practical training." My employer wants to sponsor me for an H-1B visa. I have heard that H-1B numbers might be running out. What should I do?


The Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) recently announced that as of February 28, 1999 80,983 H-1B petitions subject to the 115,000 H-1B cap for fiscal year 1999 (October 1, 1998 to September 30, 1999) had been approved. This figure includes 19,431 that were approved from May through September 1998 (during the last fiscal year) that count against this year's numbers, as well as 61,552 that have been approved thus far this fiscal year.

For the last three months between 10,000-11,000 petitions have been approved each month. Given this rate, available H-1B numbers will be used up before the end of the fiscal year, probably by May.

Please note that aliens already in H-1B status are not affected by the cap. For such cases, INS will continue to accept applications for extensions of stay or to amend the terms of employment, as well as petitions for current H-1B workers filed by new employers.

As of March 15, 1999 the INS at the California Service Center, the division responsible for reviewing H-1B petitions for employment in California, is currently processing initial H-1B applications it received on November 30, 1998. It is processing H-1B extension applications it received on December 23, 1998.


1. Maintain your F-1 status by going back to school until your H-1B petition is approved.

2. If your F-1 status will expire before October 1, 1999 and H-1B numbers run out for this fiscal year, you need to request a "change of status" from F-1 to B-2 in order to stay in the US legally. Tell the INS that your employer filed an H-1B petition for you and you would prefer to remain in the US, without working, until the H-1B is approved.

3. Depart the United States within 60 days after your practical training ends and wait in Japan until your H-1B petition is approved. Expect to return in October 1999.