H1B visa petition filing deadline April 1st or October 1st 2012

H1B visa petition filing Deadline – Is it April 1st ? October 1st ? USCIS Fiscal Year ?

In H1B Visa by KumarUpdated : 356 Comments

One of our readers, Ivan,  asked me below question over email , just sharing the answer as it can be helpful for those filing for H1B visa 2012 Quota

I was an International student on F1 visa. Now I am under my OPT which expires December 27th, 2011. I finally found somebody willing to sponsor me. the company is legit and willing to pay all the fees. I will start with them on April 1st which is very soon. However, i know that the deadline is April 1 for applications for H1B. I will be able to legally work until December 2011.  Obviously I will need to wait until April 2012 to apply for H1B.Am I right? What happens when my OPT expires in December. will I have to leave the country and wait until April 1st when my company will submit my documentation and even more so until the H1B is approved (totaling in around 7-8 months). I hope my assumptions are not correct… Is there any way I can stay in the country and work for them until I get my H1B? or is there anything else you can suggest. thanks for taking the time and your efforts.

Before we get to the question, few clarifications about H1B visa filing dates.

What is the H1B visa petition filing deadline ? Is it April 1st  or October 1st ?

Neither. The truth is there is no set deadline for H1B visa petition. If so, what is April 1st ? Why are everyone mentioning about April 1st ? Well, typically, USCIS starts accepting H1B visa petitions for next fiscal year from April 1st and they continue to accept the applications until the H1B visa cap is reached. i.e. 65,000 for regular quota and 20,000 for advanced quota.  Bottom line, there is no set deadline. April 1st, is the start date to accept applications.   For instance, USCIS will start accepting H1B visa petitions for next Fiscal year, i.e. H1B visa FY 2012 from April 1, 2011.

What is October 1st ? Why is it important for H1B visa holders ?

If you applied for H1B visa in April for next H1B fiscal year and have it approved, you can start to work from October 1st of that year. USCIS fiscal year starts from October 1st and ends by Sep 30th.  For instance, if you applied for H1B visa FY 2012 in April, 2011 and you get your H1B approved, you can start working from October 1st, 2011. In general, the start date of your H1B status will be mentioned by your employer. But, the main point is, USCIS mandates that you can only start working from Oct 1st or later for the next fiscal year.

Answer to our reader’s questions :

In fact, assumptions are not correct. You can ask your company to apply for H1B visa for next fiscal year.

(Corrected by Saurabh, Thanks !  )     If the person wants his/her H-1 to start in December 2011, then the employer needs to apply for H-1 in June 2011 or later. H-1 can be applied at most 6 months in advance of employment start date. Because USCIS fiscal year starts in Oct, USCIS starts accepting petitions in April (6 months prior to earliest start date). This is also the reason why any petition filed in April will have a start date of Oct 2011. By similar calculations, a start date of Dec 2011 implies H-1 filing date of June 2011 (or later). Once your OPT expires, your H1B will start and it will be a Change of Status from F1 visa to H1B visa…or they can file in April to have  your H1B start date from Oct 1st as well, it should not be a problem.  The key take away is, April 1st is NOT H1B deadline and it is start date to accept petitions for next fiscal year.

Any other thoughts to add ?

Image credit : http://www.flickr.com/photos/aidanmorgan/2331754875/sizes/m/


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Comments ( 356 )

  1. Apoorv


    I am currently on J-2. My wife will start her fellowship in July’2019 and will finish in July 2022.
    My organization is willing to sponsor my H1B but that they informed that if I get approval I need to get on H1B within 2 and half years. Is this correct?
    Also, they said since my wife would not have started her waiver yet, I cannot shift to H1B. Can you confirm if this is correct?

    1. administrator

      Usually, your H1B has a start and end date, you can enter US on H1B during that period only. You can ask them to clarify what they mean by two and half years… What do you mean by cannot shift to H1B – Is it after you are also in US ?

  2. SD

    Hi Saurabh,

    I am on non-STEM OPT (just 12 months and not 36 months) and it started on 31st Jan, 2017 so it will end on 30th Jan, 2018. As on today (18th March, 2017), I haven’t been able to find an employer who can sponsor my visa. I’m not giving up and continuing to look aggressively. But there’s a near 100% chance that I won’t be able to make it in the April 1st H1B filing.

    I am very worried that beyond this, I will not be able to work in US from Feb 2018 onward! I’m confused – if a company decides to file H1B petition for me this year either in April or May, is there a possibility that I will be able to work beyond Feb 2018 if visa gets picked in the lottery? Thanks in advance for your help!


  3. Yogesh


    MY situation is that I have worked for a year under H1B in US till may 2014 and then came back to India. I want to get back to US.
    Please answer my questions.

    1.Can I file my petition for my H1B anytime?

    2. I dont have to go through the lottery system again since I have had my H1B. Am I right?

    3.when can I start working in US if everything else goes alright?

    1. administrator


      1. You are eligible for cap-exempt petition which can be filed anytime.
      2. No lottery needed
      3. Soon after petition is approved and you have a valid visa stamp, you can travel to work in US.

      1. Yogesh

        Hi Saurabh,

        Thank you so much for your timely answer.

        Could you point me to the source of this information that I can file my H1B ANYTIME?

        That would be great!


  4. Swati

    Hi saurabh,

    I’ll be working on a j2 which is valid till June 2016, even if my employers file my h1b in April 16, I believe I can’t work until October. So what do I do between 1 July 16-30 sept 16?

  5. Adi


    I am currently n H4 but have a potential employer looking to file my H1 this April (2015). Can I start working as soon as I am approved or do I have to wait till October 2015 to start my work with this employer.


  6. Deepak Kumar

    Hi Saurabh,

    My case is very typical. I filed my H1B petition in 2008 and from USCIS website i can see that this is approved on 22nd May 2008 and still have the approved status.
    I could not use it for H1B and never traveled and have no exit and entry status.
    Can you please help me knowing whether this petition can still be used for filing under Cap exempt category ? what is/was the expiry of this petition?


  7. Swetha


    I am currently on my OPT and have filed my H1 on April 2014. I have got approval on my H1. I filed my H1 with labour approved by Company A but i started working with Company B from August 2014. Now when can I apply for the change of client.
    1. Is it on Oct 1st 2014, I have to file or should i wait for a pay check which might take a month and file for change of amendment?
    2. Can I go to India after I filed my change of amendment or should i wait for the approval?
    3. How long does it take for the approval of change of client from immigration dept?

    Thank you

  8. rahul

    Hi Saurabh,

    H1B visa is valid with company A until Jan 15 2014.
    Transferred the H1B with company B by premium processing on Jan 14 2014.
    Got an RFE on Jan 23rd with company B.
    RFE(client letter) has to answer on or Apr 17th 2014 by company B.
    Company B ,didn’t run any paystubs. so decided to transfer to company C.
    On Mar 21st, applied for new H1B transfer with company C(Regular processing), by using company B petition number and RFE document.

    Would the company C petition get approved or not?
    If company B didn’t response to RFE on time, what would it happen?
    Is it good to do the premium processing with company C?
    Now company B is planning to run the paystubs from feb to april and planning to answer to RFE?
    If both companies run paystubs in April, does it effect any further stay?
    If company B withdraw/revoked the petition, does it effect my stay? or can I continue with company C without approval?

  9. Patricia

    Hi Saurabh,
    I am working for a company using my OPT, my contract is for one year and due on November 18,2014 but my OPT is valid until October 15, 2014. My boss is helping me with the H1B visa aplication because exist the posibility to continue working here in this company but in other area. But now the problem is that the process in this company is very slow and until now they not submit the LCA online aplication.
    1. What are the probabilities to get the visa submiting the aplication between April 15, 2014?
    2. What other options I have to continue working in USA?
    3. Can i aplied for an extension of my OPT?

  10. Dorj

    Hi, there

    My OPT is started on June,2013 and expiring June,2014. When do I have to apply for the H1 visa? Is it on April, 1st, 1014? What if I apply on April, 1st ,2014 and will I get approved on October,1st, 2014? Can I work until October even though my OPT will expire in June? Please let me know
    Thank you so much

  11. Bala

    I stayed in USA for full 6 years on H1b visa and expired on May 10 2013 ,I travel to India on May 9 2013 , its it possible to apply for New H1B visa on April 2014 .Or I need to wait the full year to apply itself. if so can I apply on May 10 2013 for H1visa , is it possible.

  12. Esha

    Hi Saurabh,

    I am on my stem extension now.. and this will expire on Feb 28th 2014
    When do you think is the best time for me to apply for h1b? this year or next year? Please let me know! Thank you!

  13. Anz


    I am working in a company and they told me that they will be applying me for H1. My OPT started on June 03/13 and its valid until June 02/13. When can we start applying for the process? Thank you>

  14. Long_Wait

    Something is bothering me and need advice. I have a question regarding F1 Cap Gap to H1b change.
    I am on F-1. Right now I fall under cap-gap. This year my employer filed for my H1b and it is still in initial review. As a back up plan, I am trying to get admission in another university. My new school told me that I need to get Sevis released from old school once admitted. Now my questions are:

    1) Is there any issue in joining new school and keep up my status as F-1?
    2) When old school releases my SEVIS, will that affect my H1b application?
    3) What happens if H1 gets approved after I join the new school? What will be my status? F-1 or H-1?
    4) If it is F-1, will I be able to apply for H-1 next year?
    5) If it is H-1, can I continue as part time student?

    Please advice.

    Thank you

  15. Rahul

    hi Saurabh

    I worked in an MNC company for 6 yrs. I left the company in last June. I am planning to apply H1B this April. Will the gap in the experience effect my chances in getting a visa?


  16. funky


    I have a couple of questions regarding H1B visa.
    1) Is it possible to travel to india on OPT without F1 status and H1B not yet filed for 2014
    2)Is there any chance to file H1B this year ?before OCT

    1. administrator

      1. You can travel on OPT as long as you are currently employed in US, have F-1 visa stamped in the passport and have got the I-20 endorsement from your school for travel.
      2. The H-1 cap is over for this year. If you didn’t file it already then you now need to wait until April 2014 for the filing.

  17. Shannon

    I have two questions on travelling overseas.

    1. During the time of April 1st to Oct 1st, when my H1-B application is processing, am I able to leave the States (travel overseas for 1 week) and come back? (between April and Oct I am also on OPT time)

    2. Once I get my H1-B approved (after Oct), am I able to travel overseas and come back. Do I need to renew my H1-B before I come back? (even if it is just a 4 day trip to Mexcio for example).


    1. administrator

      1. If you leave US while H-1 is pending, then your COS from F-1 to H-1 will be abandoned. You can travel after H-1 gets approved w/ COS and return on F-1/OPT prior to Oct 1, and still be on H-1 from Oct 1 start date. Keep your DSO in loop when traveling.
      2. There is no H-1 renewal required, but you may have to appear for H-1 visa stamping in order to enter States. Check w/ your H-1 attorney though.

      1. Shannon

        Thanks Saurabh!

        Pls Correct me if my understanding is wrong: between April 1st to Oct 1st, at any time, my H1-B can possiblly been approved. Once my H1-B is approved, I can carry my vaild F-1 visa, my EAD card and my endorsed I-20 to travel overseas and enter the States. Do I need to leave the States (to my home country) before Sep 30th (and re-enter the States) in order to “active” my H1-B? P.S: my OPT valid till May, 2013.

        Moverover, is it more probable for a Master degree than a Bachlor degree to get the H1-B for this year. Is Master degree kinda rolled twice in the lottery ( first from the 20,000 then from the 65,000)

        Thanks in advance

  18. Pepe

    How about applicants that are granted an O visa (O-1A)? Do they have to wait until October to move, or not necessarily? (I’ve also asked in the Q&A section http://redbus2us.com/qa/7114/can-you-start-to-work-before-oct-1st-on-an-o-1-visa, which I’ll keep updated with the answer, if any.)

    1. Murali S

      Dear All,

      I am working in TCS. I have applied for H1B Visa and now they have asked my Onsite manager to Post LCA notice in client Place.

      My manager has come to India for Vacation, so he cant post the notice in Client Place.
      My question is “Could you please tell any workaround is there for getting LCA certificate”

      Many thanks in advance.

  19. Dori

    Hello, first of all, this is a great source of valuable information! I hope I’ll find an answer to my situation:
    I am doing OPT right now till January 2014. My current employer would apply for a H-1B visa for me. Now, this are my concerns/questions:
    (1) Is it too early to apply for H-1B visa in April since u mentioned something from 6 month before OPT ends?
    (2) If it is too early, don’t I run the risk that by July (6 monthr prior to end of OPT) the quota of availabe visas will be over?
    (3) Therefore, when should I have my employer apply for my H-1B visa?

    Thank you so much for your help

    1. administrator

      1. In your case, it needs to be filed in April 2013 as your OPT will expire prior to April 2014 filing date.
      2. It can be applied w/ any duration left on the OPT. There is no 6 month requirement for OPT.
      3. Your employer needs to file the H-1 in April 2013 along w/ COS from F-1 to H-1. Once approved, you can start working on H-1 from Oct 1 or COS effective date (whichever is later).

  20. Yogesh


    Currently I am working as a developer in one of the Public school in US as a consultant. Now Public School offer me to join as a Full Time Employee.But I have question, Currently I am on OPT and it will expire on Nov 2013. so is Public School as a ‘non-Profit’ organization file for H1B? Hows chance to get H1b from Public School.

  21. Roxanne F

    Hi Saurabh,

    Thanks for your useful clarification. I do have some questions for you regarding my situation.

    My OPT will expire in mid-August 2013, and I recently found a job which agrees to sponsor my H1B visa when my OPT expires. I understand that USCIS starts accepting application on April 1st, and after approval, H1B will be valid on October 1st. So, my questions are:

    1. Can my company apply H1B for me when my OPT expires, or do they need to do that in advance?

    2. Can I still work legally between the gap from my OPT expiration date (i.e. Aug 15, 2013) to H1B activation date (i.e. Oct 1, 2013)? I saw that you were mentioning the cap-gap, and I’m not sure if you are referring you this…

    3. Does USCIS normally approve the H1B application?

    4. Is there a minimum annual income that I should receive in order to be eligible for applying the H1B?

    Thanks a lot for your time!!! I really need your advice & am looking forward to reading them. One last question, may I know what the sources you use so I don’t have to bother you in the future?



  22. Adriana

    Hi Saurabh,

    I am currently on OPT until july 15,2013 and I can’t apply now anymore. If I apply in April 2013 while i’m still on OPT for a change of Status to H1B, I can keep working until July 15th and then have 47 days off until I get the H1B visa approved to start in October 1st, 2013.
    Am I on the right track here?
    Let me know please.


    1. administrator

      When you apply for H-1 w/ COS from F-1 to H-1, you will become eligible for cap-gap. This will allow you to stay and work until Oct 1 or H-1 denial date (whichever is earlier).

      After your H-1 is filed, let your school know about it and they will update your SEVIS record w/ cap-gap.

  23. Anastasia

    Hi Saurabh,

    My case is almost identical to Ivan’s case that you posted in the begining of the discussion: my employer is willing to sponsor me, my OPT is expired December 19th, 2012. Here is what I am struggling with:

    1. Should my employer directly file H1B petition right now in order to have my H1B ready by the time my OPT expires since it takes up to 6 months? Is this petition going to be affected by the fact that the quote is closed already?

    2. OR Should I apply for OPT extension under cap gap, and then have my employer file H1B on April 1st? In that case will I be eligible to work December 2012 -April 2013 , April 2013- October 2013?

    Or is there any other scenarios that I am not aware of? Thank you for your time in advance!

    1. administrator

      1. H-1 cannot be applied now as the cap has been reached. It can be applied on or after April 1 2013, but you cannot stay in US till that date. You can either enroll in another school or should leave US at the end of your OPT team (+ 60 day grace period)
      2. If you are eligible for OPT extension, then you should go for it. Later, apply for H-1 in April 2013 w/ start date of Oct 2013.

  24. Swathi


    What are the documents, I need to get from my employer after h1b got approved. How would I get to know that my h1b was approved with COS. As I don’t have approved h1b notice, but I have h4 approved notice, where can I see with COS or not.

    your reply would be appreciated

    1. administrator

      Ask them copy of 797. It will have information whether it was approved w/ COS or not. Having an I-94 attached means it was approved w/ COS, and it becomes effective from mentioned approval date.

    2. Swathi

      Hi Saurabh,

      Is there any other way to get copy of I797 A from USCIS as my employer holding it for some other reason, since it is a small consultancy company. This is my first h1b and I have to start h1b from Oct 1st. With this sitiuation , can I switch my employer by applying h1b transfer for the same end client with different mid vendor and employer. What would be the consequence behind it? ( transfering employer even starting h1b )
      Your reply would be appreciated..


      1. administrator

        You can get 797A copy only from the employer. USCIS will not provide it to you. Once you have the approved 797, another employer can file H-1 transfer for you even prior to Oct 1. This can also be done if you know the receipt number and the online status shows that it is approved. No payslips are required when filing prior to Oct 1, but will be required if filed after Oct 1 (especially after Oct 15).

        1. Swathi

          Hi Saurabh,

          Thanks for prompt reply. Do I apply copy of I797A through I824 application to USCIS. Let me know your opinion on this, whether , will it work for h1b or not?

          Can I transfer H1b with the same client with different mid vendor and employer. Earlier my application was approved for BA. Shall I switch it to QA career or do I need to maintain the same position for forever ( till I have been in h1b status).

          Your reply would be appreciated


          1. administrator

            They will not issue copy of 797 to you even if you file 824 application.

            If you have the necessary education and experience for the new position, then it can be filed for the new position as well.

          2. Swathi

            Hi Saurabh,

            Thanks for the reply. I have 6.5 yrs of IT expeience as BA/QA and MS in IT degree. This is my scenerio right now,

            I am working as a QA/UAT in XX company ( End Client) from Jan 2012. My employer filed my H1b as BA ( LC- they mentioned as BA) and got approved in June 2012. In H1b they mentioned , the Client name and position as BA. However I am going to work for the same client even after Oct 1st.

            My Question is,
            With this , can I transfer my h1b , before Oct with the same “End Client” for QA/UAT position. Now, the mid vendor and employer would be different.

            Please tell me, if I get any issue in transfering h1b like above.


          3. administrator

            Yes, you can as long as you have documents to show that you are qualified for the offered position.

            1. If new H-1 is denied, then the old one still remains active.
            2. New number is issued for the new H-1
            3. Yes, you can continue on old H-1 even if new H-1 gets approved

          4. Swathi

            Hi Saurabh,

            I have another questions. I forgot to mention it before. As you know, my h1b got approved and I have to start from Oct 1st.

            1.If I apply H1b -transfer before Oct and get rejected for some reason means, what happend to my prior h1b, that will also cancelled or alive. If so, do they raise any querry ?

            2.Do I get the same EAC no. forever ( till in h1b status) ?

            3. If my transfered also get approved, if I would like to continue with the prior H1b, Can I use it ? Then what would be the case?

            Your reply would be appreciated


  25. Swathi

    Hi Saurabh,

    First of all I would like to say great thanks to you such a valuable site like this and your prompt reply. I had gotten H1b after great struggle by god grace. Also I entered the details in your DB. Now my questions are, what are the documents do I need to get from my cnsultancy folks (employer) and how do I know I got approved with COS. Your reply would be appreciated.


    1. administrator

      You can ask them for the H-1 approval notice (797A or 797B). If that document arrived w/ I-94 attached to bottom of it, then it was approved w/ COS and becomes effective from the mentioned date (typically Oct 1). Otherwise it was approved w/o COS.

  26. suman

    Hi Saurabh,
    H1B quota is over in this year. My doubt is can any MNC apply for H1B even quota is already finished?(Like processing of L1B at any time)? Because in the travel.state.gov we have H1B issued count as 129,134 where our H1B quota will be around 65K.

    1. administrator

      That count would have included cap-exempt H-1s as well, like filed by non-profits, H-1 transfers, H-1 extensions etc. Next date to file cap-subject H-1 is April 1, 2013.

  27. jacob

    I am currently working during my OPT program which will expire in the beginning of February 2013. My employer told me that they will apply for my H1B which I don’t know if I will be able to get it after June since the cap was reached.
    1- Is it possible to apply for the H1B any time of the year?
    2- Is there a minimum period to apply before my OPT expires?
    3-Does it make a difference if I have a masters?
    4- Do you think i can apply and get it before February?

    1. administrator

      1. No. Next date to apply is April 1, 2013
      2. It can be applied either during OPT validity period or during 60 day grace period.
      3. You will be eligible for Advanced degree cap when the quota opens next year
      4. No. You will have to apply it on April 1, 2013 when you will be in 60 day grace period. This will make you eligible for cap-gap and allow you to stay in US but NOT work until Oct 1 or H-1 denial date (whichever is earlier).

  28. Jessica


    My sponsors have done the paper work for getting a H1b visa. I will get (luckily) my papers on August second week. They will send my papers to my country so that I have the interview with the embassy over there. I know that after getting the visa, I have to start working in October 1st; no before.

    If I have the interview in August, can I reenter the USA as soon as I get it approved? or, do I have to wait until October 1st to reenter the USA?
    I will need to see for appartment, car and those things.

    1. administrator

      The earliest date to enter US on H-1 visa is Sep 20th. Even then you cannot start to work until Oct 1.

  29. Swathi

    Hi Saurabh,
    As you mentioned in earlier blog, if h1b quota get exhausted in June 11th , they will select the application through lottery system depending upon denied count of already filed h1b.

    This is my current scenario,

    My OPT going to end in July 10th.
    My employer ‘X” already applied my h1b under premium and they got RFE due to lack of end client letter as I am working under 2 layers. They said that they submitted reply by this week. I might get the reply on or before 18th of June.Moreover as I said earlier they didn’t give me the receipt no. So I am not sure about my status now. I don’t know the prob. of approval or denial.
    Now another company “Y” willing to file my h1b, I knew that time is too short. Also I have to bear the total amount incurred for h1b.
    My questions are,
    1.Could you suggest me whether can I file another h1b under regular in order to avail h1b cap-gap and also the probability of getting approval rate is high since it is direct client?

    2. If I applied h1b through employer “Y” under regular process , when will I get the receipt no.?

    3. What if my petition reaches USCIS on 18th or 19 of June since I have to get LCA?

    4. How do they select my application if h1b cap filled? Are they select through lottery or return the application?

    5. If ‘Employer “X” h1b got denied before my OPT end date, am I eligible for cap-gap , as I submitted another h1b application, but w/o receipt no.?

    6. If employer “X” h1b got approved, can I get back “Employer Y h1b application?

    7. Do they return employer ‘Y” h1b fees?

    Reply would be appreciated…Thanks

    1. administrator

      Actually I didn’t say that. If the quota gets exhausted on June 11, then they will conduct random selection of petitions received on just June 11th to select just enough petitions to complete the lottery. It is also possible that no lottery happens and they select all June 11th petitions in this case.

      1. Yes, another employer can file H-1 petition for you. Chances of approval are high when not working in layers
      2. These days it is taking up to 60 days to receive the receipt number
      3. If the quota is already over by that time, then you will be out of quota. You will have to rely on X’s approval
      4. Refer my opening comments
      5. You are eligible for cap-gap only if the new petition was filed before quota getting over. If the petition is filed after quota gets over, then you are not eligible for cap-gap
      6. What do you mean by get back petition? If you are referring to withdrawing the petition, then yes Y can withdraw their petition (you cannot, but Y can)
      7. I don’t think so, but am not 100% sure

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