This year the H-1B quota ran out on the very first day! In fact, there was such a deluge of H-1B applications that the USCIS was forced to run a lottery to decide who among the applicants would receive a coveted H-1B visa. As a result, many applicants who applied on the very first day were unable to get an H-1B visa. Therefore, if you want to have a chance of obtaining an H-1B visa, your best bet is to qualify under one of the quota exemptions listed below. Best of all, if you qualify for an H-1B exemption, you can proceed with your H-1B petition immediately, to start work now (either immediately upon approval of the H-1B petition or upon receipt of the petition if you qualify for portability), without having to wait for the next fiscal year!
Specifically, for the current fiscal year (October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008), the H-1B quota ran out on April 2, 2007, the first day the USCIS accepted H-1B petitions for employment starting on October 1, 2007. On April 3, 2007, USCIS announced: "As of late Monday afternoon (April 2), USCIS had received approximately 150,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions."
There are only 65,000 H-1B visas allocated each year (minus certain special set-asides) under current law. As a result, as the following chart shows, the H-1B quota has run out earlier and earlier, so that this year the H-1B ran out on the very first day.
|Fiscal Year||Earliest Employment Start Date||Earliest H-1B Filing Date||Date H-1B Quota Cap Reached||# of Days H-1B Filing Window Open
(incl. Sat. Sun, and holidays)
|# of Days less than prior fiscal year|
|2005||October 1, 2004||April 1, 2004||October 1, 2004||183|
|2006||October 1, 2005||April 1, 2005||August 10, 2005||131||52|
|2007||October 1, 2006||April 1, 2006||May 26, 2006||55||76|
|2008||October 1, 2007||April 1, 2007||April 2, 2007||1||54|
The next fiscal year is federal fiscal year 2009, which begins on October 1, 2008. H-1B applications for that fiscal year will only be accepted from April 1, 2008. However, given the experience of past years, the H-1B quota will likely, again, run out on the first day, and the USCIS will likely have to administer another lottery.
What is the bottom line to this state of affairs? The bottom line is that if you would like to be employed under an H-1B, your best bet is to focus on "beating" the H-1B quota by qualifying under one of the H-1B quota exemptions.
If you qualify for an exemption: you don't even need to wait for April 1, and you don't need to wait for the next fiscal year to begin. You can proceed with your H-1B petition immediately.
Therefore, you should carefully read each of the following exemptions from the H-1B quota, and figure out whether to try for one of these exemptions. Good Luck!