Dear Mentor:

How can I find out about the status of my pending H1?

My potential employer in US has applied for an H1B visa for me in March 2000. There were lots of applicants during the period. Hence I did not fall within the quota. The application was carried forward. I have been informed that I have been included in the quota. However, it was delayed by change of govt. to Republicans, and again by the Sept. 11th attack, I have been repeatedly told that it is still pending. How can I find out for myself?

Anxious About H1, Singapore

Dear Anxious About H1:

The H1 visa for the US is granted to temporary foreign workers. The current annual quota for such visas is approximately 195,000. The demand for the H1 visa is so great that the entire quota for the year 2001 was exhausted in the first quarter of the year. Thus it is understandable that your petition for the visa was put off until the next year. It has nothing to do with the change in the executive branch of the US government. Republican George Bush took over as President from Democratic Bill Clinton; this change occurred on January 20, 2001, well before your application for the visa. The US INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service), responsible for processing the H1 visa, is a bureaucratic agency that simply follows the laws passed by the legislative branch of the US government.

The attacks of September 11, 2001 on the US will inevitably result in a greater scrutiny of applicants' backgrounds for all types of visas, including the H1 visa. This may increase the application processing time, but visas to the US will be issued. The US is not about to stop granting visas.

Given the current H1 visa situation, you don't even need to find out if your petition is pending. Of course it is pending, because no additional petitions would be approved until the new quota becomes available on January 1, 2002. As you know, only your employer can file the H1 petition on your behalf with the INS; thus, your employer is the applicant to the INS and not you. Your employer, or its attorney representing it, can find out the status of your petition. Trying to find out the status repeatedly, knowing that no movement on the petition would occur until January 2002, is a fruitless exercise. It will require patience. Your employer will appreciate your patience more than it will appreciate repeated queries about an issue that is controlled by the government.

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