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 ?
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