What is the H-1B Cap Filing Season & Why is it Important?

Congress limits the number of employment based, H-1B visas to roughly 65,000 every fiscal year.  The H-1B visa is the most popular type of employment visas for important foreign national employees and is available for a varitey of professions including computer science, accounting, teaching, engineering and biology.  The fiscal year begins October 1 of each year. When an employee obtains an H-1B visa, that visa runs from October 1 through three years to the September 30th of that third year.

USCIS allows employers to file for H-1B visas six months early.  This means that the filing season starts on April 1 for people seeking employment visas for the following October.  If by April 5th of the filing season, USCIS receives more H-1B visa applications than the number alloted by Congress, an H-1B lottery is held and some cases are rejected for filing when they are not selected in the lottery.

The obvious importance of this is the fact that an employer is almost guaranteed to not obtain an H-1B visa if they fail to file the application by the April 1st deadline.  Because there are several logistical steps that must be completed prior to filing the actual H-1B visa, an employer cannot wait until mid-March to begin working on the application.

This is what gives rise to the H-1B cap filing season.  Business immigration lawyers are busy during the spring time of the year as they first must obtain a Labor Condition Application on file with the Department of Labor.  This takes a bit of time and work on the immigration practitioner’s part.  Job postings must be present at company work sites for ten days.  This is why a smart employer starts on the process early.

If you have questions about the H-1B process, give us a call at (314) 961-8200 or email us at [email protected].