U.S. businesses use the H-1B visa program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, including, but not limited to scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2015 cap on April 1, 2014. Cases will be considered accepted on the date that USCIS receives a properly filed petition with the correct fee. The USCIS does not rely on the date that the petition is postmarked.
What is the H-1B Cap?
The congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for FY 2015 is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.
Beneficiaries of an H-1B visa are subject to the annual cap for their first H-1B visa and / or every 6 years on a current H-1B. Petitions are filed by employers which helps the USCIS determine whether a petition is subject to the regular cap of 65,000 H-1B visas. An advanced degree exemption is provided for the first 20,000 petitions filed for a beneficiary who has obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Once that limit is reached, any petitions filed for beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher will count against the regular cap, unless exempt for other reasons.
The USCIS anticipates receiving more than enough petitions to reach both caps by April 7th. The agency is prepared to use a random selection process or “lottery” to meet the numerical limit.
Due to the high level of premium processing receipts anticipated, combined with the possibility that the H-1B cap will be met in the first five business days of the filing season, USCIS has temporarily adjusted its current premium processing practice.
Premium processing is an additional fee of $1,225.00 paid by the petitioner or beneficiary to the USCIS to guarantee a response within 15 business days. To facilitate the prioritized intake of cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than April 28, 2014.
Approved cap cases have an effective date of October 1st which is the start of the government’s fiscal year. It’s critical to make sure the beneficiary are valid to work during this period from April 1st – October 1st or they may not start working on the approved H1 until on or after October 1st.
Our experience as a Petitioner
Epitec submits successful H-1B cap cases each year. It’s an intense timeframe ensuring that all your t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted. Our HR team ensures all the proper documentation and forms are completed. We work with a great immigration attorney who has a high sense of urgency and keeps us on our toes.
It’s the employee / beneficiary that is put through a stress test during this time. The waiting to see if your petition was accepted into the cap has to be excruciating. Epitec has been successful in our cases and there is nothing better than informing an employee that their case has been accepted and is in process. We look forward to these notifications again late April into May!