Annual H-1B Visa Quota filled for 2011: A possible blessing in disguise for Canadians

H-1B Visas Applications now Filled

The annual 65000 H-1B Visa quota has been filled as of November 2012. This means that no H-1B Applications will be accepted until the visa category opens again in April 1 2012.

Many H-1B Petitioners were surprised to learn the news this week as there were still 1000s of openings as of last week.  However, there is no predicting when exactly the H-1B quota will be filled for any given year. Last year, for the 2010 round, the quota will filled in January of 2011, a whole 2 months after this this year

But there is good news.

TN Visas as an Alternative to H-1B Visas for Canadians

H-1B Visas are US work Visas for “speciality occupations” , usually where a University degree is required. For Canadian citizens who would otherwise qualify for a H-1B but now cannot apply until April 1, 2012, there may be options. For instance, many such applicants could possibly apply for a TN Visa which would allow them to work in the US in their occupation for up to 3 years. TN Visas are US work visas, like H-1Bs but are not directly transferrable to a Green Card (US Permanent Residence) though the Adjustment of Status (AOS) process.

However, the big advantage of TNs over H-1Bs is they are work visas pursuant to the NAFTA Agreement. This  means they can be obtained very quickly, with minimal paperwork and can be issued “on the spot” at a Canada/US Port of Entry. Finally, legal fees for TNs are typically lower than that of their H-1B counterpart.

And for those working in a Canadian affiliate, branch or subsidiary of a US company, they may be eligible for an L-1 Visa again under NAFTA as an intercompany transferee.

So for many, the H-1B cap may be a “blessing in disguise”. US work visas are made easy under NAFTA!

Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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