Each year there is a congressionally mandated cap on the number of available H-1B visas of 65,000, with an additional 20,000 H-1B visas allotted for foreign nationals holding U.S. advanced degrees. Once this cap has been reached, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stops accepting H-1B petitions for processing until the next H-1B season. USCIS begins to accept filings of new H-1B petitions on April 1st. Because the H-1B petitions cannot be filed more than six months in advance of the requested start date, all employers in the U.S. seeking to hire new H-1B employees rush to file on April 1st to apply for the prospective employees to start work on October 1st.
During the years of highest demand, the cap has been reached within the first few days that the H-1B petitions could be filed, resulting in a black-out period during which no new H-1B visa numbers were available for 18 months. In 2015, we are expecting the demand for H-1B visas to exceed the available supply in a similar fashion. Once the cap for the 2015 fiscal year has been reached, you will have to wait more than a year before you can file another H-1B for a prospective employee. If more than 65,000 H-1B cap subject petitions are received on April 1st, USCIS will close the filing period and will use a “lottery” system to randomly select H-1B cases for processing. As with any lottery, there is a chance that your H-1B petition may not be selected for processing. Any H-1B petition that is not selected in the lottery will be rejected. Assuming the cap is reached during the first few filing days, any H-1B petition received after this initial filing period will be rejected.