USCIS will begin accepting new H1b visa quota based applications on April 1, 2013. The earliest start work date will be October 1, 2013. This year the annual quota is expected to fill up possibly on the first day – on April 1, 2013.  Last year, on June 11, 2012, USCIS received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the H1b visa quota/ cap for FY 2013 and on June 7, 2012, USCIS also received more than 20,000 H1B visa quota based petitions.  It is important therefore to prepare now and have your application filed by April 1, 2013.

The H-1B visa applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation. The employee must hold the minimum of a four year bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit “cap” of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap.  Additionally, H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities or a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are not subject to this numerical cap.

You must submit a certified Department of Labor (DOL) LCA (Form ETA 9035) at the time of filing your petition. This certification process takes at least 4-7 days and up to 7-14 days for new, first-time filers that may be subject to business verification before the certification is issued. The LCA includes certain attestations, a violation of which can result in fines, bars on sponsoring nonimmigrant or immigrant petitions, and other sanctions to the employer. The application requires the employer to attest that it will comply with the following labor requirements:

  • The employer will pay the beneficiary a wage which is no less than the wage paid to similarly qualified workers or, if greater, the prevailing wage for your position in the geographic area in which you will be working.
  • The employer will provide working conditions that will not adversely affect other similarly employed workers. At the time of the labor condition application there is no strike or lockout at the employer place of business. Notice of the filing of the labor condition application with the DOL has been given to the union bargaining representative or has been posted at the place of business.

As an H-1B nonimmigrant, you may be admitted for a period of up to three years. Your time period may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond a total of six years, though some exceptions do apply under sections 104(c) and 106(a) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21).

Your employer will be liable for the reasonable costs of your return transportation if your employer terminates you before the end of your period of authorized stay.  Your employer is not responsible for the costs of your return transportation if you voluntarily resign your position. You must contact the Service Center that approved your petition in writing if you believe that your employer has not complied with this requirement.

Our office is now preparing H1b visa petitions for the April 1, 2013 filing.  Please contact our office immediately to discuss your case. E-mail us at