Everything You Need to Know About the H-1B Cap


The H-1B visa is a visa of dual intent that allows foreign nationals to work specialty occupations in the US for three years with the option to extend to six years, and the option to leave when the job is done, or pursue a Green Card. During this time, they can bring spouses and dependents to live with them in the US and go to school, and sometimes even work under H-4 visa status.

This visa is the most common among employers in STEM industries in the United States, industries with jobs expanding faster than the US workforce can accommodate. This makes it one of the most sought-after visas, and the most highly competitive visa.

There are only 65,000 annual H-1B visas available to foreign workers with US bachelors degrees or their equivalent or higher, and an additional 20,000 annual H-1B visas for those with US masters degrees or their equivalent or higher.

Some jobs are NOT subject to the H-1B annual cap. These include jobs for nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and governmental and nonprofit research organizations. If a beneficiary has an H-1B visa already and is applying for a three-year extension or transfer, this petition is also not cap-subject UNLESS it is a transfer from a job that was not cap subject to a job that is.

The filing period for cap-subject visas begins Monday, April 2nd 2018 and is likely to only run through Friday, April 6th 2018. This is because once the number of petitions has exceeded the annual cap, CIS shuts its doors to more petitions. However, CIS must continue to accept petitions for five business days even if the cap is exceeded. In the last five years, the H-1B cap – including the 20,000 additional visa slots for beneficiaries with masters degrees or higher – was reached in the first five business days. Last year, CIS received about 199,000 during the five-day filing period.

This filing period is for employment that begins on October 1st 2018, the start of the fiscal year 2019 that runs October 1st 2018 to September 30th 2019. If the start date is set for any earlier than October 1st 2018, the petition will be rejected.

If the cap is exceeded, CIS runs a computer-generated random lottery to select which petitions will be considered for visa eligibility.

That means, to ensure you or your client or employee has a shot at H-1B visa approval, you must:

1. Be ready to file the petition on Monday April 2nd.

2. Have an impeccable petition with all of the necessary forms, evidence, and documentation to ensure that once selected the petition will be approved.

If you miss this upcoming filing period, you will not be able to file again until April of 2019, and your employee will not be able to start work until October 1st, 2019. That means it's time to get those petitions organized.

About The Author

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of CCI, TheDegreePeople.com, a foreign credentials evaluation agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/?CodeLWA/ or call 800.771.4723.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.