The H-1B “cap” of 65,000 was reached back in November of 2011, preventing employers from hiring any H-1B professionals until October 1, 2012. As the economy continues to pick up, it is anticipated that the cap will be reached even earlier this year. Fluctuations in the job market determine when the 65,000 visas are used up during any given year. For example, In 2007, just prior to the downturn in the economy, the 65,000 cap was reached on the first day that petitions could be filed (April 2, 2007). In the past two years, the cap was reached much later than April 1st due to the weak economy.
What does this mean for employers? Simply put, employers should file on April 1, 2012 for the H-1B employee to start work on October 1, 2012. This is the earliest possible date to file to get the earliest employee start date of October 1, 2012.
What does this mean for potential H-1B employees? If you have an employer who wants to file an H-1B petition on your behalf, you should begin collecting your documents and finalizing any employment offers or agreements with your employer.
Because extensive documentation is necessary to successfully file an H-1B petition, both employers and employees should retain an Immigration attorney and begin compiling the required documents as soon as possible. For employers, this means, among other things, drafting an appropriate job description, finalizing any offer of employment, compiling company information and determining the wage to be paid. For employees, this means collecting your education and immigration related information, including copies of your passport and current I-94; your resume; copies of your degrees and transcripts; letters from previous employers confirming your dates of employment, your job title, job duties, special skills used/learned and any tools used in your job. ( You should obtain these any way for possible use in a labor certification application.)
Those employees who are currently in OPT status that expires prior to October 1st can take advantage of “cap gap” measures to extend their OPT status (F-1) and work authorization until the change of status to H-1B takes effect on October 1st. There are certain restrictions, however, so it is important to make sure that petitions are timely filed and that the H-1B employer is aware of the filing deadlines. An Immigration attorney can help clarify this for you.