What is the H-1B Cap?
The H-1B Cap, also known as the H-1B Quota, refers to the annual limit set by U.S. immigration law on the number of H-1B visas that can be granted in a fiscal year. The total number of H-1B visas and exemptions issued each year is 85,000. These visas are divided into three categories: Regular Cap, Advanced Degree Cap, and Chile-Singapore Cap. The Regular Cap, also called the General Quota, grants 65,000 visas. The Advanced Degree Cap, also known as the master's degree Cap, grants 20,000 visas. The Chile-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Cap allows for 6,800 visas annually exclusively for applicants from Singapore and Chile.
When can we start filing for H-1B visas for Fiscal Year 2024?
USCIS begins accepting H-1B visa petitions on April 1st, 2023, for the fiscal year 2024.
Why is it called H-1B Visa 2024 when we start filing in 2023?
USCIS operates on the fiscal year, which starts from October 1st and ends on September 30th. Therefore, the fiscal year for 2024 will begin on October 1st, 2023, and end on September 30th, 2024.
What is the Regular quota for H-1B visas in 2024?
The Regular Quota Cap for H-1B visas in 2024 is 65,000.
What is the master's quota for H-1B visas in 2024?
The master's degree Quota Cap for H-1B visas in 2024 is 20,000.
How many visas are available for applicants from Singapore and Chile under the Free Trade Agreement?
Typically, USCIS grants 6,800 visas for applicants from Singapore and Chile under the Free Trade Agreement.
When is the deadline for filing H-1B visas in 2024?
There is no specific deadline for filing H-1B visas. USCIS starts accepting petitions on April 1st, 2023, and continues until the H-1B Cap is reached for the fiscal year 2024.
What is the H-1B Visa Lottery and how is it determined?
When the H-1B Cap is reached within the first five days of the filing season, all petitions received will be subject to a computerized random selection process. The first selection is conducted for the Master's Degree Cap, and any petitions not selected in this category are then included in another random selection process for the Regular Cap. If the Cap is reached after the initial five-day period and there are more petitions than available slots, a lottery will be conducted.
What happens if the Advanced Degree Cap is reached but the Regular Cap is still available?
If the Advanced Degree Cap is reached and there are still available slots in the Regular Cap, all eligible petitions will be included in the Regular Cap selection process.
How is the H-1B Regular Cap calculated?
The Regular Cap allows for 65,000 visas each year. The 6,800 visas granted under the Chile-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Cap are included in the Regular Cap count. Additionally, any unused Regular Cap visas from the previous fiscal year are added to the current fiscal year's allocation. The equation to calculate the cap amount is as follows: Current Fiscal Year Cap (65,000) - Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreement Cap (6,800) + Unused H-1B Caps from the previous Fiscal Year (X) + Petitions that were Denied, Rejected, or Withdrawn (X) = Annual Cap for the Current Fiscal Year.
When the cap is reached, does it include denied petitions?
The petitions counted towards the Cap for a fiscal year only include those that were submitted to USCIS before the final receipt date and are either pending or already approved. Petitions that were denied, rejected, or withdrawn are not included in the Cap count.
Who qualifies for the Advanced Degree Quota?
Individuals holding a U.S. Master's degree or higher qualify for the Advanced Degree Cap. Those with U.S. Associate's, Bachelor's, or master's degrees earned outside the U.S. do not qualify for this cap.
Are all H-1B Petitions subject to the H-1B Cap/Quota?
No, only new H-1B Petitions filed for employers in the U.S. and abroad are counted towards the H-1B Cap. Change of employer petitions, renewal/extension petitions, and amendment petitions are not counted in the Cap. H-1B Petitions filed by exempt employers, such as colleges, universities, selected nonprofit organizations, and government research organizations, are not subject to the Cap.
Which H-1B Petitions are not subject to the H-1B Cap?
H-1B Petitions requesting a change of employer, renewal/extension, or amendment are not counted towards the Cap. Additionally, H-1B Petitions filed by exempt employers, such as colleges, universities, selected nonprofit organizations, and government research organizations, are not subject to the Cap. These petitions can be filed at any time and are not limited by the H-1B Cap.
I filed for an H-1B Visa for FY 2024. When can I start working?
Once your H-1B Petition is approved, you can start working according to the employment period specified in the H-1B Approval Notice. For FY 2024, the employment period must be after October 1st, 2023. If your petition was filed from overseas, you are required to obtain an H-1B Visa stamp to enter the U.S. on an H-1B Visa. If your petition was filed as a change of status, you do not need to travel back for visa stamping.
Does the H-1B Cap affect an employee's choice of employer?
Yes, H-1B Petitions filed by universities, university-affiliated nonprofit entities, nonprofit organizations, and government research organizations are not subject to the H-1B Cap/Quota. If an employee accepts an offer from any of these exempt employers, they may be able to start work prior to the start of the fiscal year, which is October 1st. If the employee chooses to work for a private employer, they will be subject to the H-1B Cap and may have to wait until October 1st to start work, provided they were selected in the H-1B Cap.
My H-1B Visa is expiring soon. Does the H-1B Cap affect me?
If you are currently in H-1B Visa status, the H-1B Cap does not affect you. Your employer can file an H-1B Renewal/Extension Petition to extend your stay without being subject to the Cap/Quota.
I am currently maintaining my H-1B Visa status and considering changing my employer. Does the H-1B Cap affect me?
If you are maintaining valid H-1B Visa status and wish to change employers, the H-1B Cap does not affect you. Petitions requesting a change of employer for individuals in valid H-1B status are not subject to the Cap. Changes in employment terms or employers are not affected by the Cap.
What other visa options are available if the H-1B Cap has been reached?
Once the H-1B Cap is reached, it is not possible to obtain an H-1B Visa until the next fiscal year. However, there may be other work visa options available depending on your specific circumstances. It is advisable to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to explore alternative visa options.
Can the H-1B Cap be reopened after it has been reached?
No, once the H-1B Cap is reached, it cannot be reopened. The number of Cap slots granted each fiscal year is fixed and not subject to change.
How does the H-1B Cap/Quota affect an employer?
The H-1B Cap/Quota may affect an employer depending on the immigration status of prospective employees. Candidates who are not currently in H-1B status are subject to the Cap/Quota. These candidates cannot start working until or after the start of the new fiscal year on October 1st. To allow a candidate to begin work in the new fiscal year, the employer must file an H-1B Petition starting from April 1st. However, there is a chance that the candidate may not be able to start work if the H-1B Cap is reached and their petition was not selected. In such cases, the employer must file a new H-1B Petition for the next fiscal year.
Is there a way to avoid the H-1B Cap and obtain a new H-1B Visa?
There is no guaranteed way to avoid the H-1B Cap. However, there are precautions you can take to minimize the risk. Submit your H-1B Petition as early as possible, as USCIS does not accept petitions more than six months before the start of the new fiscal year. Since the fiscal year begins on October 1st, you should submit your petition to USCIS on April 1st. This reduces the chance of not being selected before the Cap is reached. Additionally, ensure that all required documents and processing fees are submitted accurately and on time. An incomplete application will be returned to the employer. Another option to consider is exploring other nonimmigrant visa options. It is advisable to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance in such critical situations.
My current status expires before the start of the new fiscal year. What are my options if H-1Bs are not available until the next fiscal year?
If you are currently on an F-1 or J-1 visa, which do not have a set expiration date, USCIS occasionally provides guidance allowing individuals on these visas to remain in the U.S. until the start of the new fiscal year when they can begin their H-1B employment. Another option provided by USCIS is to extend your Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization until the start of the fiscal year to bridge the gap between the two visa periods. These options are only available to F-1 and J-1 visa holders. Individuals on other nonimmigrant statuses will not be eligible for such treatment and would be required to leave the U.S. and return upon obtaining a new H-1B Visa stamp on October 1st.
Can I change my status from an F-1 Visa to an H-1B Visa?
Yes, foreign exchange students pursuing their Bachelors, Masters, or PhDs from U.S. universities and working on Optional Practical Training (OPT) can file for an H-1B Change of Status Petition. Applying for a change of status from F-1 to H-1B allows the student to continue working after the expiration of OPT and start H-1B employment from October 1st without leaving the country. However, to maintain legal status in the U.S., the Change of Status application must be filed before the expiration of OPT.
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