When should I file my H-1B visa petition to make sure it gets approved on time?

When should I file my H-1B visa petition to make sure it gets approved on time?

For those employees relying on the approval of an H-1B visa to come work in the U.S., it is highly important that your H-1B petition is filed as soon as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting H-1B petitions for the new fiscal year. If you are in need of an approved H-1B petition in 2015, the earliest you can and should file the petition is Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Why is it important to file as early as this date? Because every fiscal year, the USCIS places a cap (i.e. a numerical limitation) on the number of H-1B petitions that it accepts. The cap for the fiscal year 2015 is 65,000. The first 20,000 petitions for foreign nationals who have earned a U.S. Master's degree or higher are exempt from the cap. In previous years, the cap has been reached in the first few days of April. Last year's cap was reached April 8, 2013 (only 7 days after the filing period opened!). With continuing signs of an economic recovery, there is a significant likelihood that this year's cap will be reached as early as the first week of April once again. Last year, when the cap was near exhaustion within the first days of April, the USCIS utilized a lottery system that randomly selected a number of petitions until the numerical limit was met, and rejected petitions subject to the cap which were not selected under the lottery system. This lottery system will likely be used again for the 2015 fiscal year. Since this year's H-1B quota is expected to be exhausted in the first few days of April, it is advisable to have your H-1B petition ready for filing no later than March 28, 2014, to ensure delivery of your petition to the USCIS on April 1, 2014, and improve your chances of securing an H-1B visa for the 2015 fiscal year. Keep in mind that the H-1B petition requires a Labor Condition Application certified by the Department of Labor, which can take up to 2 weeks for the Department of Labor to certify. Therefore, it is advisable to begin preparing your H-1B petition in February and no later than early March. Approved petitions for the 2015 fiscal year will allow foreign nationals to begin working for petitioning employers as early as October 1, 2014.
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