Important Dates for H-1B Visa Cap Season

February 5, 2018 Chelsea Iversen

As the most popular American work visa, the H-1B visa keeps HR departments busy throughout cap season. Petitioning for the visa means ensuring your application – and all its parts – are submitted on time and accurately. Here are some of the most important dates for H-1B visa cap season:

Important dates for H-1B visa

March 1

This is the ideal date to file your LCA to ensure that you’re on time and ready to go once the H-1B cap filing period opens up.

March 15

If you’re an Envoy customer or filing an LCA on your own, we recommend that you file no later than this date to ensure the LCA is adjudicated and returned in time to complete case preparation before the opening of the cap filing period. Getting your LCA in early helps sidestep any backlog issues that can arise when rushing filings at the last minute.

April 1

H-1B cap filing period opens! USCIS begins accepting H-1B visa applications. This year, April 1 falls on a Sunday, so USICS will begin accepting receipt of cap petitions on April 2.

April 6

This is the date we predict the H-1B visa cap will close. For the past several years, the cap has been filled within five to seven days.

October 1, 2018

Cap petitioners whose cases have been selected in the FY19 lottery and approved can start work on this day.

Here’s your survival guide to put some context to these important dates for H-1B visa cap season and help you through the entire process.

What happens if my petition is accepted into the lottery?

If you’re an Envoy Customer, Customer Support will alert you via email once the filing fee check has been deposited with USCIS, indicating that your petition has been accepted.

Some applicants can expect to receive their receipt notice from USCIS S in early June. GIA, will post to the employee’s Envoy account once a Receipt Notice is received. Approval notices for H-1B visa recipients will likely begin arriving after August 1.

What happens if my petition is not accepted into the lottery?

Beginning in late May, petition packets for applications that have not been selected from the H-1B lottery will be returned. If your application is not selected, your filing fees will also be returned to you by USCIS. At this point, it may be time to discuss your other visa options with your Envoy Customer Support Manager. One option may be to wait for next year’s H-1B cap lottery to try again.

Requests for evidence

While your H-1B petition is pending, it’s a good practice to maintain important supporting documentation to have it ready in the event USCIS issues a Request For Evidence (“RFE”) in your case. Though the bases for RFEs can vary, there are a few themes that we see most often. Among these are whether a job can be considered a specialty occupation, why the particular wage level was chosen, and job requirements or location issues like travel or offsite employment.

You should make sure you’re prepared for an RFE after you’ve submitted your H-1B visa petition, especially since the number of RFEs is on the rise. In the first eight months of CY2017, USCIS issued 85,000 RFEs for H-1B petitions — an increase of 45 percent over the same period in 2016.

Want the big picture? Get the details you need from this recent webinar: Preparing for the H-1B Lottery: Applications to RFEs.

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