FY2019 H-1B CAP FILING DEADLINE APPROACHING
Annual Filing Window
The filing window for H-1B petitions seeking a FY2019 (10/1/18 to 9/30/19) cap or quota number will open on Monday, April 2, 2018. As with prior years, we anticipate demand will exceed supply within the first week, which will mandate a lottery to determine which petitions will be selected to proceed to adjudication. All petitions received at USCIS from Monday, April 2 through Friday, April 6 will be included in the lottery. Last year 196,000 petitions were filed for the 85,000 visas available. We anticipate similar volume this year.
It is important to initiate any cap subject petitions now to ensure timely filing. Please note that cases initiated after Monday, March 12 will require rush preparation, which will incur an additional fee of $500; cases initiated after Monday, March 19 will incur a fee of $750.
USCIS has not made any official announcement yet regarding the availability of premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions. In the past USCIS suspended premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions for a period of time, and then resumed it when they were more likely to be able to honor the 15-day processing time. We will advise if/ when such a suspension is announced.
Note that premium processing only advances the timeframe for adjudication of the petition. It does not increase the chances of selection in the lottery, nor does it advance the start date of employment. By law, the earliest start date of employment for an approved cap-subject H-1B is the beginning of the federal fiscal year, which is October 1, 2018.
H-1B Annual Quota Limitations
Regular cap (Bachelor’s degree): 58,200
Regular cap, Citizen of Chile: 1,400
Regular cap, Citizen of Singapore: 5,400
Master’s cap exemption (Master’s degree or higher from a U.S. University): 20,000
Individuals who may need a cap-subject H-1B visa
- F-1 students currently working pursuant to Optional Practical Training
- Individuals in TN status (pursuant to the NAFTA Treaty)
- Individuals who are nearing the end of their L-1B status
- Individuals who are nearing their first L-1B extension. Based on the increased scrutiny by USCIS of the L-1B classification (i.e. increased RFEs and denials), switching to H-1B status rather than filing for an L-1B extension may be a better option depending on the particular case
- Individuals who are in their 4th or 5th year in L-1A status and do not qualify as multinational managers for the permanent residency process
- Candidates coming from abroad or not currently work authorized
- Candidates seeking to transfer an H-1B from a cap-exempt to a cap-subject employer (such as a university to a for-profit company)
- Individuals working pursuant to H-4 EADs
Cases which are NOT subject to the H-1B cap
- H-1B amendments (filing to change a term or condition of employment for an employee who already holds H-1B status)
- H-1B extensions (filing to extend the stay of an employee who already holds H-1B status)
- H-1B transfers (filing to transfer an H-1B from Employer A to Employer B)
- H-1B petitions for someone who has held an H-1B in the past and has not exhausted the full six years of H-1B time
- H-1B petitions filed by cap-exempt employers, such as universities or non-profit research institutions