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Employers Should Prepare Now for April 1, 2014 Filing Deadline for H-1B Petitions


Now is the time to evaluate your company’s anticipated hiring needs for H-1B professionals (specifically, those requiring initial H-1B visas) for the 12-month period beginning on October 1, 2014. That date is when the federal government’s fiscal year begins, and the date on which new H-1B visas become available under the annual cap

Employers can file H-1B petitions no earlier than six months in advance of the anticipated start date, so April 1, 2014 signals the start of what has become an annual race to get petitions filed as early as possible to ensure acceptance before the cap of 85,000 visas is reached. The 85,000 cap includes the basic cap of 65,000, plus an additional 20,000 H-1B visas available to foreign nationals who have earned an advanced degree (master’s or higher) from a U.S. university.

Our clients who have been involved in the process of hiring a foreign national professional in the past years already know that the H-1B cap for fiscal year 2014 was reached the first week of April 2013. The USCIS had received approximately 124,000 petitions by the first week of April toward the 85,000 visas available. We anticipate that this year’s H-1B cap will also be reached the first week of April 2014. Since there is nothing to be gained by waiting to file an H-1B petition, and everything to lose by failing to file it at the first possible opportunity, we are planning to have all clients’ petitions prepared and ready to file by the end of March. This year the first business day of April is Tuesday, April 1, so we plan to send all cap-subject petitions by next-day courier on Monday, March 31 to ensure USCIS acceptance on the first available day.

As in past years, there are some foreign nationals who will not be subject to the H-1B cap. These include individuals who already have been counted toward the cap in a previous year and have not been outside the U.S. subsequently for one year or more. Also, certain employers, such as universities, government-funded research organizations, and some nonprofit entities are exempt from the H-1B cap. All other employers should be aware of the H-1B cap.

As you evaluate your company’s H-1B hiring and transition needs over the next two months, please keep our office appraised of all new hires needing H-1B status prior to October 1, 2015. Examples would include F-1 students hired with Optional Practical Training that expires before April 1, 2015, or current L-1B nonimmigrants who will have spent five years in that status as of any date before October 1, 2015. Prompt action is needed to ensure that we can prepare the petition and supporting documents (including credential evaluations if necessary) in an efficient and timely manner.

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