Anticipated H-1B Filing Season: April 1st to April 5th (Five Days); H-1B Lottery Likely; Last Call for H-1B Cap Filings
As we are going in to the peak of the H-1B cap season, our office receives many inquiries about the duration of the H-1B filing season this year or, in other words, when will the H-1B cap be reached? So far we have been able to compare demand with prior H-1B filing seasons and we knew that this would be a busy and very short H-1B filing season. Now we have indication from USCIS that they are also bracing for a very busy but also a very short H-1B cap filing season. According to USCIS, they expect that the H-1B cap be reached in the first five days of April with the number of filings over the first five days exceeding the available number of H-1B visas which means that there will very likely be a random lottery to allocate the available H-1B visas among all filings received in the first five days of April.
High H-1B Cap Demand Expected: Last Call for Starting H-1B Cases
The expected heavy demand in this H-1B filing season means that all H-1B petitions should be submitted on or very shortly after April 1st. It should be noted that it takes at least 10-14 days to prepare and file an H-1B petition (due to the LCA filing requirement, which takes up to 7 business days). As a result, any new H-1B cases should be initiated over the next 2-3 days, at the most, in order to have a decent chance of being accepted under the H-1B cap before it is reached, as anticipated, on April 5th.
H-1B Applications Filed Over the First Five Days in April Will Be Subject to Random Lottery
Assuming the H-1B cap is reached by April 5th, all H-1B filings which are received over the first five days in April will be subject to a random lottery to determine which of these H-1B applications would be counted and included under the cap. This means that, as of now, we expect all H-1B cap cases filed over the first five days in April to be subject to the random lottery. The last time a lottery was used to allocate H-1B numbers over the first five days of the H-1B filing season was in April 2008.
H-1B Filings Not Picked by the Lottery or Filed Afterwards Are Rejected and Returned
H-1B cases filed over the first five days in April but not picked by the random lottery or H-1B cases filed after April 5th (again, assuming there are more filings over the first five days than there are available H-1B visas) are processed by USCIS to be returned to the filing petitioner employer (or their attorney) with an explanation that the H-1B cap has been reached and that there are no longer H-1B visas under this year’s cap.
Premium Processing Clock for New H-1B Cases to Start April 15, 2013
In connection with the high level of H-1B filings, USCIS has also announced that they are altering the way they would process premium processing H-1B cases under the H-1B cap. Under current practice, the 15-day premium processing “clock” starts on the day a case is received by USCIS. For cases filed under the H-1B cap, in order to facilitate the prioritized data entry of cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing, USCIS has annonced that premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions, including H-1B petitions seeking an exemption from the fiscal year cap for individuals who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher, will begin on April 15, 2013. This means that even for cases filed on April 1, 2013, the premium processing 15-day response window would not start until April 15. Premium processing H-1B petitions filed outside of the H-1B cap (such as extensions or transfers) would not be affected.
We have been writing over the past few weeks about the possibly very short H-1B cap filing season this year. Given the time it takes to prepare and file an H-1B cap case, this is the last call for starting an H-1B case with a chance of filing under the H-1B cap.
W will be providing updates (as soon as USCIS released the H-1B numbers, which they normally do every two weeks) on the H-1B cap. To ensure you receive these updates, please sign up to our free weekly newsletter. If you wish to start a new H-1B work visa petition under this year’s quota, or if our office can be of any help, please contact us immediately.