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H-1B Filing Season Begins on April 1, 2014

  • January 10, 2015
  • Paralegal

On April 1, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for the fiscal year 2016 (FY 2016).  The number of H-1B visas accepted for processing will total 85,000. We expect the quota to be filled quickly. Employers should plan to file their H-1B cap petitions during the first 5 business days – from Wednesday April 1 to Tuesday April 7.  H-1B petitions that are accepted for filing and approved will become effective on October 1, 2014 – the first day of the government’s 2016 fiscal year.

The H-1B Numbers
The annual H-1B quota is 65,000, with an additional 20,000 places for foreign nationals with US advanced degrees (master’s degrees or higher). Last year, approximately 104,000 petitions were filed against the standard cap of 65,000 and these cases had a 62.5% chance of being chosen for processing. About 39,000 petitions (more than 31% of the total cap filings) were not selected ion the lottery.

Demand for H-1B numbers is expected to be even higher for FY 2016.  There have been no new H-1B cases filed since last April 2014 plus an improving economy and falling unemployment rates all contribute to higher demand for this year’s quota.

Therefore, we strongly advise that employers prepare their cases well in advance, including obtaining Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) from the U.S. Dept. of Labor as soon as possible.  It is likely that the great number of applications will cause delays at the Dept. of Labor.

Check with your attorney or with the Law Office of Richard A. Newman to determine what documents you will need to complete your H-1B petitions.

When to File
The earliest date that employers can file for FY 2016 is April 1.  I recommend that employers plan to have their H-1B cap petitions arrive at the proper USCIS office on Wednesday, April 1, but no later than Tuesday April 7.  Employers or their lawyers should plan to file their cases by overnight mail service so that they arrive at USCIS during this time period.

Not all H-1B petitions are subject to the annual quota.
In general, people who presently hold H-1B status are not subject to the annual quota. H-1B cases not subject to the annual quota include extensions, amendments and changes of employer. These cases can be filed and approved at any time during the year.

However, current H-1B holders may be subject to the cap when changing employers if their previous H-1B employer was “exempt” from the cap because it was a non-profit organization affiliated with an institution of higher education, and a non-profit research organization.

Also, persons may be exempt if they previously held H-1B visa status but did not use up their 6 year limit.