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E-Notification Coming Soon For H-1B Visa Employers

The e-notification system should be online by April, when the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services begins accepting H-1B visa petitions for fiscal 2009.
This spring, when employers flood the U.S. government with petitions to hire H-1B visa workers, those companies likely will have a new convenience -- electronic notification from the Dept. of Homeland Security about whether those applications have been approved.

"We're getting away from snail mail and taking advantage of technology," said Chris Bentley, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration spokesman, the Dept. of Homeland Security agency that handles the approval process for H-1B visa petitions.

So, rather than employers waiting for weeks to know the status of their H-1B visa petitions, this year they'll likely be notified a lot sooner electronically by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, he said.

The new e-notification system that's being developed should be online by April, when the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services begins accepting H-1B visa petitions for fiscal 2009, which starts on Oct. 1.

But that's not the only process change to H-1B visas that's being worked out. The Dept. of Homeland Security and Dept. of Labor are studying other administrative and regulatory "fixes" to help streamline H-1B processes, he said.

Those proposed changes likely will be made public in the coming months. Among the ideas being mulled is a plan for the U.S. government to host a meeting for "H-1B stakeholders" to discuss ways of improving the work visa process, he said.

Last April, in the first two days that the U.S. government accepted applications for H-1B work visas, more than 100,000 applications poured in seeking the 65,000 openings. The crush was enough that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services cut off accepting new applications, the fastest the petition period has ever closed.