Update: As the first day of the FY2014 H-1B cap approaches, more information about the number of H-1B cap filings expected at USCIS on April 1 is becoming available. Although there is no hard and fast reporting mechanisim, it is now widely expected that the cap will be exceeded by April 5, 2013 thus necessitating a lottery. Under the lottery requirements, USCIS will accept applications on Monday April 1 through Friday April 5. If this number is over the 65,000 regular cap and 20,000 masters cap, they will then enter all applications into a lottery for the available visa slots. For more information on the process visit the H-1B FY 2014 Cap Season Web page
Who is covered by the Cap: Each H-1B worker is counted only once every 6 years, so the H-1B cap only applies to persons who are getting H-1B status for the first time. Extensions of status and change of employer applications are not affected. Employees of Universities and other non-profit research institutions are also not affected as they are exempt from the H-1B cap
What this means for Employers: If you have any employees on Optional Practical training that will expire before April 1, 2014, it is imperative that you submit an H-1b application for them during this year’s cap season. There is still time to do this now, especially since filings will be accepted through at least April 5, 2013. If the cap is not reached by April 5, USCIS will continue to accept applications until the maximum number is reached, so it is to everyone’s benefit to prepare and submit H-1B applications up unti USCIS announces that the cap has been reached.
Effect on Premium Processing: Announcements from USCIS yesterday indicate that it is anticipating that the cap will be reached by April 5, 2013, thus requiring it to begin the lottery process. It is also anticipating that requests for premium processing for H-1Bs will be at historic levels. As a result it has announced that Premium Processing for H-1Bs will begin on April 15, 2013, not on the day the H-1B petition arrives at USCIS.
We are still available to do last minute filings so please call 215 979 1840 for assistance.