U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on June 12 that the Fiscal Year 2013 H-1B cap has been reached. The agency will not accept any new H-1B petitions received after Monday, June 11, 2012.
The H-1B visa program allows U.S. employers to employ foreign professional workers temporarily for up to six years. Each year, 65,000 H-1B visas are available for those who hold bachelor’s degrees and an additional 20,000 are reserved for foreign nationals who have earned at least a master’s degree from a university in the United States.
In recent years, the cap has remained open for much of the calendar year. However, an improving economy and an increase in the number of foreign graduates led to greater demand for H-1B visas this year. Since all slots have been filled for the upcoming fiscal year, employers will not be able to employ new H-1B workers until the following fiscal year begins on October 1, 2013.
That noted, some H-1B employers are not subject to the cap. The cap does not apply to certain institutions of higher education and associated entities, nonprofit research organizations, and government research organizations. Also, candidates who already hold H-1B status that wish to transfer to a new employer generally are not counted against the numerical cap.
Employers of foreign students who have degrees in science, technology, engineering or math might also have a workaround if they participate in the E-Verify system. Employees in this category are generally eligible for a 17-month extension of their work eligibility, which very likely will bridge the gap until the next H-1B filing period opens on April 1, 2013.