H-1B Cap Reached. What are my options now?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced that it has received enough H-1B petitions to fulfill its annual H-1B quota and will no longer accept new cap-subject H-1B petitions until April 1, 2016.  This is to say, in the last week USCIS received in excess of 65,000 new H-1B petitions and in excess of 20,000 H-1B petitions for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.  

USCIS will therefore conduct a computer-generated random lottery of those H-1B petitions received between April 1 - April 7, 2015 to determine which petitions will be selected for processing.  If selected and approved in this lottery beneficiaries may begin working in H-1B for their employers starting October 1, 2015.  Petitions not selected in the lottery will be returned along with the filing fees.

Other Immigration Options

Failure to obtain an H-1B visa is not the end of the world, as there are many other options to obtain a U.S. work visa.  The following nonimmigrant visas are available year round, not subject to numerical caps, and are viable alternatives to the H-1B visa.

  • Cap-Exempt H-1B Visas:  The following H-1B visas may be issued without being subject to a cap: 1) H-1B petition extensions for current H-1B holders, 2) H-1B petitions changing employers for individuals currently on H-1B status, 3) H-1B petitions filed by higher education institutions, 4) H-1B petitions filed by nonprofit organizations affiliated with higher education institutions, 5) H-1B petitions filed by nonprofit research organizations or government research organizations
  • TN Visa:  For Canadian and Mexican citizens employed in certain professional categories seeking to engage in U.S. employment
  • L-1 Visa:  For intracompany transferees who have worked for a foreign entity for one year and seeking to transfer to a U.S. subsidiary, affiliate, parent, or branch office in the U.S. in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity
  • E-1/E-2 Visa:  For international investors or traders from certain treaty countries looking to engage in substantial trade between the U.S. and their foreign country or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the foreign national has invested
  • O-1 Visa:  For foreign nationals of extraordinary ability who have achieved national and international recognition for extraordinary achievements in their field of endeavor
  • H-3 Visa:  For foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to engage in a course of training
  • E-3 Visa:  For Australian citizens who will be employed in a specialty occupation in the U.S.

For additional information on the H-1B visa or any of these U.S. work visa options, please feel free to contact us.