• Reminder: H-1B Cap Filing Season Opens Soon
  • March 19, 2013
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • On Monday, April 1, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin to accept H-1B cap petitions for the FY 2014 quota of 85,000. The demand for new H-1Bs is likely to be higher than in the last several years, meaning that the annual quota could be reached earlier and may be exceeded in the first five days of the filing season. The FY 2013 H-1B cap was reached on June 11, 2012.

    With less than two weeks remaining before the opening of cap season, employers who have not yet done so should contact their designated Fragomen professionals to discuss their H-1B needs for FY 2014.

    When to File FY 2014 Cap Cases

    The earliest that employers can make FY 2014 cap filings is the week of Monday, April 1, 2013 through Friday, April 5, 2013. Cases received by USCIS within those five business days are treated equally for cap counting purposes.

    To safeguard against delivery delays, we recommend sending cases for arrival on April 1, the first possible filing day. Cap-subject cases must be received by USCIS no later than Friday, April 5, to be filed within the first five business days of the filing period. Employers should not submit H-1B petitions for delivery on or before March 29, 2013. FY 2014 cap cases that arrive on or before Friday, March 29, 2013, will be rejected.

    If USCIS receives more than enough cap petitions to use up the entire quota between April 1 and April 5, it will run a lottery to choose the cases that will be processed to completion. Cases not selected in the lottery will be rejected and returned. If the cap is not reached during this initial five-day period, USCIS will accept filings on a day-by-day basis until the quota is filled.

    Premium Processing Delayed Until April 15

    This season, USCIS will postpone the start of H-1B cap premium processing until April 15, 2013. Employers will be able to request premium service between April 1 and April 14, but the agency will not begin working on these cases until April 15.

    The agency is delaying the start of premium processing because it anticipates a very large number of premium requests during the first days of the filing season, and possibly enough cap filings to exceed the annual quota. The extra time is intended to allow the agency to complete data entry for the premium cases it receives during this period.

    Effect of the Federal Government Sequester on H-1B Processing

    As the federal budget impasse continues, many employers are concerned about the impact of sequester on H-1B-related processing.

    Because USCIS operations are primarily funded by filing fees, budget cuts should not affect H-1B petition processing significantly. Department of Labor slowdowns in LCA processing are always possible during the final weeks of cap case preparation, but a sequester-related furlough of some DOL employees is not expected to add significantly to processing times. At the State Department, officials have warned of possible delays in consular services, including nonimmigrant visa processing.