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USCIS Will Begin Accepting Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions for FY 2016 on April 1, 2015

The filing period for “new” H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (the “H-1B cap”) for FY 2016 will begin on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Cap-subject H-1B petitions will have an employment start date of October 1, 2015, or later.

In preparation for the opening of the FY 2016 H-1B filing period, employers are strongly encouraged to begin identifying current and future employees who will need H-1B visa status to be legally employed in the United States. Individuals currently employed as F-1 students or J-1 trainees, individuals seeking to change to H-1B status from another visa status (such as L-1, TN, O-1, or E-3), and individuals outside of the United States commonly require a cap-subject H-1B petition be filed on their behalf.

Overview of the H-1B Visa Program and Annual Numerical Limitation

The H-1B visa program permits employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, such as engineers, scientists, and computer programmers (among others). Federal law limits the number of new H-1B visas that are available each fiscal year to 65,000. Of that number, 6,800 visas are reserved for citizens of Chile and Singapore pursuant to the terms of the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements. In addition to the 65,000 H-1B visas made available each fiscal year under the “regular” cap, an additional 20,000 H-1B visas are made available for beneficiaries who have obtained an advanced degree (i.e., a Master’s degree or higher) from a U.S. academic institution at the time of filing.

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Brought to you by: Diane M. Rish, Justin S. Coffey, and Marifrances Morrison
Diane Rish is an associate in the Raleigh office of Ogletree Deakins. Justin Coffey and Marifrances Morrison are shareholders in the Raleigh office of Ogletree Deakins. Ogletree Deakins is a member of  EACCNY.