Dorsey & Whitney immigration professionals would like to remind you that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will begin accepting H-1B petitions that are subject to the FY 2015 numerical limitation (the “cap”) on April 1, 2014, for employment with a start date of October 1, 2014 or later. This year it promises to be a busy day!

Last year, for the first time since 2008, the annual H-1B cap for Fiscal Year 2014 was reached within the first week of the filing period, which ended on April 5, 2013. We expect that the demand for new H-1B petitions will be just as high this year due to a recovering economy and an earlier-hit cap last year. Therefore, employers should file all new H-1B petitions on April 1, 2014, when the H-1B quota opens, in order to maximize the chance of obtaining new H-1B petitions for current and/or future employees subject to the H-1B cap.

We recommend that employers start identifying persons for whom H-1B sponsorship is needed as soon as possible to allow sufficient time for petition preparation, including the time required to file and receive certification of the prerequisite Labor Condition Application (“LCA”) from the U.S. Department of Labor. Current LCA processing times are approximately seven days, and employers must take this additional processing time into consideration to guarantee the timely approval of the LCA and the ability to file the H-1B petition on April 1, 2014.

The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit "cap" of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. An additional 20,000 are available for foreign nationals (usually F-1 students) who have graduated from a U.S. college or university with a Master's degree or higher. Individuals currently employed as F-1 students or J-1 trainees, individuals seeking to change to H-1B from another work status, and individuals outside of the United States commonly require new, cap-subject H-1Bs.