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Employers are reminded that, beginning April 1, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting new H-1B temporary worker petitions for foreign nationals requesting an employment start date on or after October 1, 2014.

For fiscal year 2014 (FY14), the H-1B cap was reached the first week of April 2013 when cases were first accepted for processing. This included the 20,000 H-1B numbers reserved for foreign nationals possessing an advanced degree from a U.S. college or university. We expect that the H-1B cap will be met even sooner for fiscal year 2015 (FY15), so employers are encouraged to start carefully considering their hiring needs for the coming year. Once the H-1B cap is reached, employers will not be able to obtain new H-1Bs until October 1, 2015. In addition, if employers have foreign national students working under Optional Practical Training (OPT), which will expire before October 1, 2014, the filing of an H-1B petition may be critical to extending their ability to work.

If you are considering the hiring of a foreign worker who will need H-1B sponsorship, please contact any of our immigration attorneys immediately to review your hiring plans. It is important to remember that the cap applies only to new H-1B cases and not to extensions of H-1B status or a transfer of an H-1B visa from one employer to another. The cap does, however, affect those foreign nationals who are in H-1B status seeking to work for new employers, but who are currently exempt from the cap based on employment with a university or not-for-profit or governmental research organization.