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H-1B Filing Season Begins on April 1, 2013

  • March 12, 2013
  • Paralegal

On Monday, April 1, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for the fiscal year 2014 (FY 2014).  The number of H-1B visas accepted for processing will total 85,000.  Last year the quota was filled on June 11, 2012. This year, the quota will probably be reached much earlier.

Employers should plan to file their cases on April 1, 2013, and no later than April 5, 2013, to increase their chances of having their H-1B petitions accepted before the quota is filled.  H-1B petitions that are accepted for filing and approved will not be effective before October 1, 2013 – the first day of the government’s 2014 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).

What to File

The H-1B petition requires the following basic forms and documents:

Form I-129 Petition (basic nonimmigrant visa application).
Labor Condition Application (LCA) – must be filed as soon as possible with the US Dept of Labor which takes at least 7 days to certify the LCA.  A certified LCA is required to be submitted along with the I-129 petition.
Evidence of the Beneficiary’s education (bachelor’s degree or greater), including diplomas and transcripts, that qualifies them for the H-1B job with the employer.
Job Offer from the employer with an explanation of how Beneficiary’s education qualifies him/her for the position.
Employer’s company background materials or corporate information can be helpful.

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 applications.

When to File

The earliest date that employers can file for FY 2014 is April 1.  I recommend that employers plan to have their H-1B cap petitions arrive at the proper USCIS office on Monday, April 1. This means that employers or their lawyers should plan to file their cases on Friday March 29 or Saturday March 30 by overnight mail service so that they arrive at USCIS on Monday April 1.

USCIS is likely to accept H-1B petition from Monday April 1 to Friday April 5.  If the cap is filled in those 5 days, USCIS will run a lottery to choose the cases that will be processed. If the cap is not filled by April 5, USCIS will continue to accept cases on a day-to-day basis until the cap is filled.

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.