H-1B Visa Cap Reached

Federal law limits the number of H-1b visas that the CIS can grant in a year to 65,000 for most H-1b’s. This quota does not include people who work for universities, non-profit organizations or who have already received H-1b status. The government allows an additional 20,000 H-1b’s for people who received master’s degrees from a U.S. college or university.

The government’s issuance of these visas follows the government’s fiscal year which begins on October 1. Thus the fiscal year for 2010 began on October 1, 2009. The CIS begins accepting applications for H-1b’s for the coming fiscal year on the 1st. of April prior to the beginning of the government’s fiscal year. Currently in the 2010 fiscal year, we still have H-1b visas available. However, in previous years the government has received enough applications to fill the quota on the very day that it begins accepting applications.

People who need an H-1b visa and who are subject to the cap, must keep this schedule in mind to plan ahead for their H-1b visa application. In the future, the demand for H-1b visas may increase significantly so that the cap could be reached. For instance, if you are a foreign student who is working in the U.S. pursuant to their Optional Practical Training Program, then you need to plan to have your application filed by April 1. Regardless of when your practical training program ends, you will find it necessary to file by April1, so that your application can be considered.

Although the government may approve an H-1b visa for the coming fiscal year in the six months prior to the beginning of that year, the visa is not effective until October 1 of that fiscal year. This will mean that many applicants cannot work for their employers from the expiration of their optional practical training until October 1. However, applicants in certain Information technology, engineering and physical sciences may receive up to 29 months of optional practical training which will allow them to bridge the gap.

What should you do if you need an H-1b visa, and the cap has been hit. You will need to have some other type of visa status to carry you through until you can apply again. You should consult Attorney Kevin L. Hoffkins about the very best visa status or strategy to allow you to remain in the U.S.