H-1B Reminder: Plan for Timely Filing on April 1

Cap Cases Should Be Filed on April 2 Only in Unavoidable Circumstances

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

H-1B filings for employment in Fiscal Year 2009 should be delivered to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Tuesday, April 1.  Though cases that are received by the agency on April 2 could be eligible for the H-1B cap selection lottery, filing on April 1 gives cases the best odds of winning a cap number.

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Employers planning to file H-1B petitions for employment in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 should act quickly and gather all necessary documentation so that cases can be delivered to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Tuesday, April 1, the first day of the filing season.  Though cases that arrive at USCIS on April 2 could still be eligible for the agency’s cap selection lottery, filing on April 1 gives cases the best odds of winning an H-1B cap number, as discussed below.  Cases should be filed on April 2 only in unavoidable circumstances.

If the agency gets more than enough cases to meet the cap on April 1, the first day of the filing season, it runs the lottery using cases received on both April 1 and April 2.  If USCIS receives enough cases to meet the cap on another day in the filing season, the lottery is run using just the cases received on that day.

How does this affect a case’s chances of winning a cap number?  In the remote, though still possible, event that USCIS receives fewer cases than are necessary to meet the cap on April 1, cases received on April 2 could have much lower odds of winning a cap number.  For example, USCIS receives just 57,000 standard cap cases on April 1 – i.e., fewer cases than are needed to reach the 58,200 quota for standard H-1B cases – and another 50,000 standard cases on April 2.  All eligible cases that are received on April 1 would be awarded a cap number.  But the 50,000 cases received on April 2 would be entered into a cap lottery and would be competing for the remaining 1,200 standard cap numbers.  April 2 cases would thus have greatly reduced chances of winning an H-1B number in these circumstances.