The H-1B Quota
H-1B Quota Legal Representation
The H-1B quota is the allocation of H-1B visas that are available and that can be issued each fiscal year. (The H-1B quota is also commonly known as the H-1B cap.)
The number of H-1B visas issued each year through the quota system is subject to a cap limit that is determined by the U.S. Congress. There have been discussions in the U.S. Congress regarding increasing the H-1B visa cap count. At this moment, the cap for FY 2015
remains the same:
- Regular H-1B quota: 65,000.
- Masters H-1B quota: 20,000.
- 6,800 visas are carved out for Chilean and Singapore nationals.
Who Qualifies For Master’s Quota?
The masters quota is for people who have obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher degrees. A person who has obtained a foreign master’s degree or higher degree is not qualified.
H-1B Filing Window
Each H-1B quota applies to a particular financial year which begins on October 1 (when the U.S. government’s financial year starts).
USCIS begins to accept H-1B applications for the financial year from April 1st each year. It also starts to review these petitions and issue visas. Using past data and the data for the current year, USCIS will estimate a date when the quota will be used up. When the day comes, USCIS stops accepting applications. There are two dates set for the regular quota and the masters quota. This short filing period is what we called H-1B filing window. In recent years, the quota always runs out very quickly. Last year, USCIS received 124,000 petitions before it closed the pool. No petition was accepted after April 5th, and a lottery process was used to
select the petitions to meet the H-1B cap on April 7th.
People Exempt From Quota
The H-1B quota is only for ‘first-time’ H-1B visa cap-subject applications and does not include or affect:
- H-1B extensions or renewals for current H-1B visa holders;
- H-1B transfers: for current H-1B holders transferring their visa to a new H-1B employer / sponsor;
- Cap-exempt positions: first-time H-1B visa applicant who obtains sponsorship employment with: nonprofit organizations, government research organizations, or institutions of higher education.
* H-1B Transfers and cap-exempt positions are NOT counted towards the regular annual quota allocation. They are Unlimited in number (there is no quota) and they can be filed at any time of year, all year round.
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