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The 2014 H-1B Filing Window Is Here

posted Jan 20, 2013, 2:30 AM by Sumiyia Jafri
Employers should assess their FY 2014 H-1B needs NOW, and file cap-subject petitions on March 29, 2013. 

On April 1, 2013, the USCIS will begin accepting new H-1B petitions for the 2014 Fiscal Year, for employment start dates on or after October 1, 2013. This year is predicted to be the shortest season yet, with many anticipating the H-1B quota will be reached in under a week. Employers who wish to secure a cap-subject H-1B visa this year should be prepared to file their petitions on March 29, 2013 to ensure an April 1, 2013 receipt date. Even the slightest delay could mean missing out on a number this year, and being forced to wait until the next season begins on April 1, 2014. This would make matters extremely difficult for employees without work authorization or valid nonimmigrant status, forcing them to sit tight until October of 2014 before being permitted to work in the United States.

Every Fiscal Year, the USCIS makes 65,000 cap-subject H-1B visas available under the General Cap, and 20,000 available under the Master’s Cap. The latter are reserved for foreign nationals holding a master’s degree or higher, and the former are reserved for all other foreign nationals. After a couple slow years where the H-1B cap was reached 8 and 10 months after the filing window opened, last year’s filings showed a sudden turnaround – the H-1B cap was reached in a mere 2 months. Prompted by news of an improving economy, this year’s cap is expected to be reached even sooner – within a matter of days.

Given last year’s numbers, employers are strongly encouraged to file all new H-1B petitions on March 29, 2013. The unpredictability of this year’s filing season makes it critical for employers to immediately begin evaluating their H-1B needs for petition start dates of October 1, 2013 and later. Acting now will allow employers sufficient time to prepare petitions, including the time required to file and receive certification of the Labor Conditions Application (LCA), a prerequisite for H-1B filings. Recent LCA processing delays make advance preparation even more important. LCA processing can take anywhere from one to four weeks. Employers must be mindful of this fact to guarantee a timely approval of the LCA to allow for a March 29, 2013 H-1B petition filing.