Its that time of year again. On April 2, 2012 , the USCIS will begin adjudicating H-1B visa petitions for the 2013 Fiscal Year – which begins October 1, 2012. This means, that if you need or want an H-1b visa, you most likely will need to apply on or after April 2, 2012- and will not be able to begin working until October 2012. Of course, there are certain exceptions.
What is the H-1B Visa? And Why Is there a Cap?
The H-1B visa category allows certain specialty occupation workers to have work authorization through a petitioning employer for three years. The number of H-1B visa holders, however, is limited by a statutory quota. Each year, only 65,000 applicants can obtain H-1B status subject to the quota. An additional 20,000 applicants can obtain H-1B status if they have a master’s degree from a U.S. university. Also, individuals working at universities, non-profit research facilities, and other cap-exempt employers are excluded from the cap total.
Why Is April 2nd Important?
The H-1B visa can only be applied for six months prior to the visa’s intended use. Thus, if someone wants to begin work on the first day of the new fiscal year’s H-1B eligibility – they cannot apply before April 2 – which is six months prior to the first day of the government’s fiscal year (October 1, 2012).
This means, no H-1Bs subject to the cap can be applied for until April 2, 2012.
Do I Need to Apply April 2nd?
April 2nd is the first day when cap-subject H-1B petitions can be submitted for the upcoming fiscal year. However, it is not required that an applicant apply April 2nd. Before the economic downturn in 2008, the H-1B visa cap was often met within a few days of April 1st (Meaning that the USCIS received over 85,000 qualifying applications within just a few days). However, since 2008, the H-1B cap has taken many months to be reached. Last year, the cap was reached at the end of November.
If you are applying for an H-1B this year, I would suggest not waiting too long. Although it is unlikely that the cap will be reached in April, it will probably be reached faster than last year (November). Once the cap is reached, applicants are out of luck for another year – unless they find another suitable visa.
If you are seeking the H-1b visa during the next year – do not delay. Although the yearly quota has recently taken many months to be reached, it is important to not wait too long. There is no real way to determine when the cap will be met – and it is better to be early than to be late. Please contact Gafner Law Firm for assistant in obtaining H-1B visa status.