Under U.S. Immigration Law, there is a limit to how many visas can be granted in a given fiscal year and is called the H-1B Cap or Quota. The total amount of H-1B Visas and H-1B Visa Exemptions granted annually are 85,000. These visas are divided in three categories: Regular Cap, Advanced Degree Cap and Chile-Singapore Cap. Regular Cap is known as the General Quota or cap and grants 65,000 visas. Advanced Degree Cap also known as the Master’s Degree Cap grants 20,000 visas. Chile-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Cap grants 6,800 visas annually only for applicants from Singapore and Chile. These visas are counted in as General Cap.

When can we start filing for H-1B Visa for Fiscal Year 2014?

USCIS will start accepting H-1B Visa Petitions starting April 1st, 2013.

Why is it called H1B Visa 2014, when we start filing in 2013?

USCIS functions on the fiscal year which starts from October 1st and ends September 30th. So accordingly, fiscal year for 2014 would start on October 1st, 2013 and end on September 30th, 2014.

What is the Cap count for Regular quota for H1B Visa 2014?

Regular Quota Cap for H1B Visa 2014 is 65,000.

What is the Cap count for Masters Quota for H1B Visa 2014?

Masters Degree Quota Cap for H1B Visa 2014 is 20,000.

How many visas are available for Singapore and Chile Free Trade Agreement filings?

USCIS usually grants 6,800 visas for Singapore and Chile Free Trade Agreement filings.

When is the deadline for filing H1B Visa 2014?

There is no deadline as to when the H1Bs should be submitted by. USCIS will start accepting files on April 1st, 2013 and once the H1B Cap is reached, they will stop accepting cases for FY 2014.

What is a H1B Visa Lottery and how is it determined?

  • When a Cap is reached within the first 5 days of the new filing season, all petitions will be subject to a computerized random selection. They will first conduct a selection on the Masters Degree Cap. Masters Degree cases that were not selected will then be put through another random selection with the Regular Cap.
  • In case that the Cap was reached after the first 5 day period and they received adequate amount of petitions, then no Lottery will be conducted. If they receive more than the sufficient amount of petitions, a lottery will be conducted.

What happens if the Advances Degree Cap is Reached and Regular Cap is still available?

If in any circumstance the Advance Degree Cap is reached and Regular Cap is still available, all eligible petitions will be counted in with Regular Cap.

How is the H-1B Regular Cap Calculated?

Every year U.S. Immigration Law grants 65,000 visas for Regular Caps. Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreement Cap is granted 6,800 visas which are included in the Regular Caps. Apart from this, unused Regular Caps from the previous fiscal year are added to the current fiscal year.

To calculate the cap amount, one may use this equation: Current Fiscal Year (65,000) &- Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreement Cap (6,800) + Unused H-1B Caps from previous Fiscal Year(X) + Petitions that were Denied, Rejected or Withdrawn(X) = Annual Cap for Current Fiscal Year

When a Cap is reached, does it include the denied petitions as well?

The petitions counted per fiscal year only include the petitions that were submitted to USCIS prior to final receipt date and which are either pending or already approved. Petitions that were denied, rejected or withdrawn will not be included in the Cap Count.

Who qualifies for Advanced Degree Quota?

An individual carrying a U.S. Master’s degree or higher will qualify for Advanced Degree Cap. An individual carrying a U.S. Associates or Bachelor’s or Master’s degree of higher outside of U.S. does not qualify for this cap.

Do all H-1B Petitions follow the H1B Cap/Quota?

No, only new H-1B Status Petitions filed for employers in the U.S. and abroad are counted in the H-1B Cap. All change of status petitions such as from F-1 to H-1, H-4 to H-1, TN Workers to H-1 are counted in H-1B Cap.

Which H1B Petitions are not subject to the H1B Cap?

H-1B Petitions requesting Change of Employer, Renewal/Extension and Amending Petitions are not counted in this category. H-1B Petitions filed by exempt employers such as colleges, universities, selected nonprofit organizations and government research organizations are not subject to the H-1B Cap. These H-1B Petitions can be filed any time of the year and are not limited to H-1B Cap being reached.

I filed for an H1B Visa for FY 2014. When can I start working?

Once the H1B Petition is approved, you can start work according to the Employment Period given on the H1B Approval Notice. For FY 2014, Employment period must be after October 1ST, 2013. If your petition was filed from overseas, you are required to get H1B Visa stamping in order to enter U.S. on H1B Visa. If your petition was filed as a change of status, then you are not required to travel back for visa stamping.

Does the H-1B Cap affect an employee depending on what employer he or she may chose?

Yes, H1B Petitions filed by universities, university affiliated nonprofit entities, and nonprofit or government research organizations are not subject to H-1B Cap/Quota. If an employee accepts an offer from any of these exempt employees, he or she may be able to start work prior to start of the fiscal year, which is October 1st. If the employee chooses to work for a private employer, he or she will then be subject to the H-1B Cap and would have to wait to start work on October 1st provided that the employee was selected in the H-1B Cap.

My H-1B Visa is expiring soon. Does the H-1B Cap affect me?

The H-1B Cap is not subject to any employees currently in H-1B Visa Status. Your Employer can file an H-1B Renewal/Extension Petition to extend your stay without being limited in the H-1B Cap/Quota.

I am currently maintaining my H-1B Visa Status and considering changing my employer. Does the H-1B Cap affect me?

The H-1B Cap is not subject to any petitions requesting a change of employer provided that they are currently in a valid H-1B Visa Status. Change of Employer or change in any terms of employment will not be affected by the H-1B Cap.

What other visa options are available if the H-1B Caps have been reached?

Once the H-1B Cap is reached, there are no chances of you to get the H-1B Visa till the next fiscal year. However, you may be eligible for other working visas depending on your current condition. You may consult an immigration attorney experienced in the field to shed light on the matter.

Can the H1-B Cap be reopened after the Cap has reached?

No. Once the Cap is reached there are no chances of it to be opened again. Only a fix number of Caps are granted per fiscal year and it is not subject to change.

How does the H-1B Cap/Quota affect an employer?

H1-B Caps/Quota may affect an employer depending on the immigration status of the prospective employees. Candidates who are not currently on an H-1B Status are subject to H-1B Cap/Quota. These candidates cannot start work until or after the start of a new fiscal year which is October 1st. In order for a candidate to start work in the new fiscal year, the employer must file an H-1B Petition starting from April 1st. There are yet chances that the candidate may not start work if the H1-B Cap is reached and the candidate’s petition was not selected. In this case, the employer must file a new H-1B Petition for the new fiscal year.

Is there a way to avoid the H-1B Cap and obtain a new H-1B Visa?

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed process to avoid the H-1B Cap. However, there are few precautions that you may take to minimize this possibility. First, you must complete and submit the H-1B Petition at your earliest convenience. USCIS does not accept any petitioner six months prior to the start of new fiscal year. Since the fiscal year starts on October 1st, you must submit the petition to USCIS on April 1st. This reduces the risk of not being selected prior to H1B Cap has reached. Along with submitting the petition on time, you must make certain that you submit all valid documents along with processing fees. An incomplete file will be sent back to the employer. Another option you may consider is to try to obtain some other nonimmigrant visa. You must consider an experience immigration attorney in such critical situations.

My current status expires prior to the start of new fiscal year. What are my options if there aren’t any H-1Bs available until the next fiscal year?

If an alien is currently on F-1 or J-1 Visa &- both of which do not have a set expiry date, USCIS had occasionally provided guidance both aliens on these visas. USCIS may or may not allow such aliens so remain in the U.S. until the start of the new fiscal year where they can start there H-1B employment. Another option provided by USCIS can be to extend their OPT Authorization until the start of the fiscal year to cover up gap in the two visa periods. Such options are only at avail to F-1 and J-1 visa holders. Individuals on any other nonimmigrant status will not be provided such treatment and will be obligated to leave the U.S. and return upon obtaining a new H-1B Visa Stamp on October 1st.

Can I change my status from F-1 Visa to H-1B Visa?

Yes. Foreign Exchange Students who are pursuing their Bachelors, Masters or PhDs from U.S. Universities and are working on OPT can file for an H-1B Change of Status Petition. Applying for Change of Status from F1 to H1B allows the student to continue work after expiration of OPT and starting H-1B Employment from October 1st without leaving the country. However, to maintain legal status in America, one must apply for Change of Status prior to OPT Expiration.

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