Each Fiscal Year (FY), which starts on October 1, 65,000 H-1B visas become available for what is referred to as the “General Cap,” and 20,000 H-1B visas become available for what is referred to as the “Master’s Cap.” Those individuals holding a U.S. Master’s degree or higher may fall within the Master’s Cap; all others fall within the General Cap. The FY H-1B filing season opens six months before each FY, i.e., during the first week in April.
The FY 2016 H-1B Cap season will open on April 1, 2015 with employment beginning October 1, 2015.
In the past few seasons, as H-1B visa numbers dwindled, the rate of filings of Cap-subject H-1B visa petitions increased. For this reason, we predict the H-1B quota will be reached in the first week, just like last year.
This will be yet another of the shortest H-1B Seasons since FY 2009, when 165,000 H-1B petitions were filed within the five-day filing period at the beginning of April, 2008 and a lottery was needed to select the petitions that would be awarded a place within the Cap. After the start of the Great Recession, however, the demand for H-1B visas decreased dramatically, resulting in significantly longer H-1B seasons: the FY 2010 H-1B Cap was reached December 21, 2009; the FY 2011 H-1B Cap was reached January 27, 2011; the FY 2012 H-1B Cap was reached November 22, 2012; the FY 2013 H-1B Cap was reached June 11, 2012; the FY2014 H1B CAP was reached April 5, 2013; and the FY2015 H1B CAP was reached April 7, 2014. Many see the markedly higher demand for H-1B visa petitions this season as indicative of an improving job market and economy in the U.S.
Employers wishing to file H-1B Cap-subject petitions with the earliest possible start date in FY 2016, i.e., with a start date after October 1, 2015 need to start their cases immediately. Employers cannot file H-1B visa petitions for new employees until they first obtain a labor condition application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which takes at least seven (7) business days to process. Start now or wait about 18 months before the next H-1B visas are available in October 2016.
Please contact our office to schedule a consultation to discuss the conditions affecting your specific case.