The H-1B program is used by employers in the US to hire specialty employers in specialized fields. IT, computer programmers, science, and engineering are fields that rely heavily on the H-1B program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start to accept H-1B visa petitions affected by the cap for fiscal year 2013 starting on April 2, 2012. While applicants can start applying on this date, the USCIS will only consider an application accepted on the date that the application is filed correctly and the fee has been submitted. The postmarked date will not count as the date of acceptance. For this reason, it is important for applicants to carefully follow all instructions and to file correctly to avoid delays in the application process and requests for more information.
The numerical cape for H-1B petitions for 2013 is set by Congress and has been set at 65 000 this year. This is the same number of H-1B petitions allowed in fiscal year 2012. Some applications will not be subject to this cap. For example, the first 20 000 applications filed for beneficiaries who have at least one US master`s degree will not be subject to the cap. As well, some professionals working for specific government organization, non-profit groups or institutions of higher learning will not be subject to the cap. H-1B petitions from those who will work exclusively in the Northern Marina Islands or Guam are except from the cap – but only until the end of 2014. Those who are currently H-1B employees will also not count towards the cap.
The USCIS will keep track of the number of H-1B petitions accepted until the cap has been reached. Once this happens, the USCIS will announce to the public that no more H-1B petitions will be accepted for fiscal year 2013. Any applications received after this date will not be accepted. If the USCIS receives too many petitions, they will randomly choose petitions to accept from qualified applicants who have submitted their applications before the cut-off date. Since there is a numerical cap, it is important for qualified candidates to apply as soon as possible.
Those who are applying to extend the amount of time they can remain in the US under a current H-1B visa and those who have H-1B status but want to change the terms of employment can apply at any time as they are not subject to the cap. Current H-1B workers who want to change employers or want a second H-1B job also do not need to worry about the cap – these applicants can apply at any time.