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H1B Application Timeline, Deadlines, Planning

H1B Visa program is one of the most used temporary work visa programs. The demand for H1B visas is crazy. Due to extreme demand, USCIS has been using H1B Lottery process for the last 10 years. Due to this reason, it is important for everyone to understand the overall timelines for applying H1B visa, what are the deadlines and how to plan ahead of time. In this article, we discuss all of those topics and common FAQs.

Background – USCIS Fiscal Year, H1B Season Start

USCIS’s fiscal year does not follow the regular calendar year of Jan to December. USCIS fiscal year starts on October 1st and ends on September 30th of next year. For example, USCIS Fiscal Year 2023 starts from October 1st, 2022, and ends on September 30th, 2023. This is very important for planning and deadlines.

USCIS allows new H1B applicants to start working based on the same fiscal year concept. It means that new H1B applicants for a fiscal year can start working only from October 1st, even if they get approval before. For example, applicants with H1B approval for the fiscal year 2023 can start working from October 1st, 2022.

USCIS does not accept new H1B applications 6 months before the start date of the working of the applicant. What it means is that USCIS accepts applications

H1B Visa Season : Registration, Petition Filing

Quick Answer: April 1st, 2015.  So far no new changes to H1B petitions acceptance dates have been communicated by USCIS.  Typically, USCIS starts to accept H1B petitions for next fiscal year from April 1st of the previous fiscal year. USCIS’s fiscal year starts from October 1st of every year and ends by September 30th.  USCIS’s fiscal year for 2015 started in October of 2014. So, for next fiscal year, which is 2016, USCIS will start to accept applications starting from April 1st, 2015.

H1B Visa 2016 Plan – Step by Step Guide

Last year, there was H1B Visa Lottery and it was crazy busy time for attorneys as they had a pile of applications to process. To avoid last minute hassles, a plan could help. The below plan and guide is very indicatory and it is based on our experience. It can be shifted early or later based on your situation. The whole idea is to capture all the significant steps in the process, you go through them and have ample time for the same. I have just divided the dates by two weeks or week so that it is easy for you to plan.

MonthDates Goals, Description of the H1B Process Activity
January

10th – 31st

 

 

 

  Goal :   Your goal for the next 5 weeks is to find a H1B sponsoring company during this period and find a job in that company.

 

  • H1B Sponsors List: You should research and create a list of all the companies that could be your H1B sponsoring company for your profile.  I suggest, you read article:  How to find H1B Visa 2015 Sponsors. You can use our free H1B Visa Sponsors Database to look for companies that sponsor based on several criteria like Job Title, City, Zip Code. All the data on the sponsors database is from US DOL’s LCAs past data published by them for public disclosure.
  • Apply Jobs – Interviews: As you are creating list of these H1B sponsoring companies, you should also apply for jobs during this period in parallel and attend interviews. Apply to as many companies as you can and get interviews done.
  • F1 Visa Students – Internships : If you are a student already working in US and doing internship at a company, you would need to check with them, if they can sponsor H1B Visa for you. The sooner you get an answer from them, the sooner you can begin job search.  So get this clarified quickly. If they do not sponsor, you need to do the above two steps.
February1st   – 15th
February15th  – 31stGoal : You goal for these couple of weeks is to ensure that you have a clear job offer, which is negotiated well, from one or more H1B sponsoring companies and make sure they are having a good track record.  Also, to get all the required documents for filing visa.

 

  • Negotiate Salary, Benefits : Make sure you negotiate well with the employer regarding salary and other benefits. You always stick to market rate and should negotiate at least for that. You can check in our H1B Database for salaries offered for a role. You can also use GlassDoor website for average salaries info.  You should negotiate just like any other new employee, do not get carried away by thinking that H1B Sponsorship expenses and you need to take less salary. The more offers the better for you, so that you can make a decision based on options.  Read the articles :  1) What to Ask H1B employer  before offer letter 2) How to Negotiate  Salary & benefits in consulting
  • Verify the H1B Visa Sponsoring companies – It is very important that you do enough due diligence on the companies that gave you offer.  Our H1B Sponsors database will give you a high level profile view of the company with rejections, approvals of LCAs, it should give you some idea. Also, I suggest you speak to people and get more information regarding the company and policies.   You will need to dig into details like the types of jobs and LCAs these companies have filed, including approvals, denials, etc.
  • Get Documents:  You should secure all the required documents for filing your H1B petition. You would need that verify your education like transcripts, degree certificates, documents for job experience like experience letters, etc. For full list, read article H1B Visa Petition Filing Check list. 
February21st – 28th Goal : This week’s goal is to decide the H1B Sponsor.

 

  • Finalize the H1B Sponsoring Company:  The sooner you decide the better for you.  If you have been working hard, you may have more offers and it is best to put them in an excel and rank them based on various aspects like salary, benefits, good will, brand, etc.  If you are joining a consulting company, ensure that you know someone in that company, talk to someone working there so that you know the ground reality in that company. Think of things like do they do Green Cards and your future with the company as well.
March1st – 7thGoal : Your goal this week is to send all the documents, work with attorney and ensure right information is given to them.

 

  • Giving Documents to Attorney:  Work with your employer and their attorney for filing H1B petition. You will need to send the documents, usually only scan copies of the documents are requested by attorney. Do NOT provide any originals. Read article on What NOT to give to H1B Employer to file petition.
  • Send out all the scan copies via email. If anything required as hard copy, just courier the same.  It is critical that you work with your attorney and have it ready so that they file for your LCA during this week itself.
  • LCA filing: Your Labor Condition Application (LCA) has to be filed with US Department of Labor ( DOL ) by this week or even earlier. This has to be done as early as possible. As soon as you have a decision made, just work with attorney and ensure they file the LCA for you.
March8th – 24th Goal : Your goal is to keep Checking and ensure H1B filing goes smooth.

 

  • Status Check- Filing :  You need to check with your attorney and employer, if they have all the documents and everything is on track. This is the most busiest time for employers and attorneys. If everything went well and your attorney has all the paperwork, there is no activity for you.  Just keep tabs on everything so that you don’t hear last minute surprises.
March24th – 31st Goal :  Ensure H1B Application is filed. Stay calm and relax.

 

  • Final Check : Final check on if everything is well and employer is filing it on time. You have no activity after that.  Your attorney/ H1B sponsor would work with companies like UPS, FedEx, USPS to deliver your H1B visa application petition exactly on April 1st, 2015,  which is a Wednesday. Just stay calm and relax.

Did I miss anything ? Add your thoughts and comments.

You may also check previous article on H1B Visa 2015 planning and guide

   

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68 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I wonder if you can help me understand the following:
    I am an Architect who managed to find a design firm that would like to hire me for a set time in order to do a fellowship.
    They are not a big company but rather a small firm.
    They have never been sponsors for someone outside USA, so they are not in any database or similar.

    How would the procedure go in this case?

    Thanks

    Reply
  2. Hi every one am Abayomi I’m oil&gas welder I don’t no if any body can help me find h1b sponsorship plessssss I will appreciate thanks.

    Reply
  3. can u please help to provide guidance on how to look for employer for h1b sponsorship, where to post the resume, it has to be through consultant or can we post on company website

    Reply
  4. Hi All,

    Recently I got taiwan visa work permit and I have been transferred to Taiwan. My company has told me that they will be processing my H1B visa from Taiwan.

    Can anyone throw light on to this topic?
    Is there a lottery procedure?

    Reply
  5. Hi,
    I’m raju currently im working in Amazon.com.
    I have 4 years experience, I recently got engaged, My wife is going for higher studies(m.s) in USA, so im also planning to apply H1B Visa,
    Can you please help me, how i can i get a H1B,
    Can please provide me information,

    Thanks,
    Raju

    Reply
  6. Do the employees(beneficiaries) be in a company for 6+ months to apply H1B for year 2016?

    Because there is a sentence in –

    http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-fiscal-year-fy-2016-cap-season

    under ” When to File an FY 2016 H-1B Cap-Subject Petition ” section mentioned like

    You may file an H-1B petition no more than six months before the employment start date requested for the beneficiary.

    Could you plz someone confirm with this, becz i got an offer with H1B and they are going to put petition for year 2016 and i am going to join in that company in May – 2016.

    Reply
    • Karthee, It does not mean that you have to work for 6 month before they can apply, it means that your employer can only apply to USCIS 6 months before your start date at the company. The context of that in that page is that, Your employer can only apply from April 1st, for start date of October 1st for the employee, which is 6 months.

      Reply
  7. Keeping multiple applications for H1b, to get wining chances in lottery is utilizing the loop hole of USCIS rules and regulations. A remedial measures are taking this time to take care of this particular situations.

    Reply
    • its already in place.
      If more than one then one may get apporved and second (if got picked in lottery) gets RFE asking justification for other application. here u will fail to answer and you can escape saying i dont know who filed but its a different story which can end upto deporting the employer who applied and employer will have all evidence about who shared those documents to them where you sign as “i have not applied for H1b for any other” then both applications will be denied, your passport carries deporting ending upto 2yrs sometimes lifetime not even as dependent.

      Reply
  8. Hi Kumar,

    We are still approaching the Consultants no one finalized yet. Is there any scope for search still, or should we wait for one more year, because almost 1 week of march is getting over.

    Reply
    • those timelines are consultant timetable to execute their plans and not mandatory, if getting a consultant on Mar 30th still you can file for H1b, keep all documents scanned copies ready and hope you get one good consultancy for your favor.
      be cautious not to fell in trap as this is the peak time for fraudster who act more and active as they understand you don’t have options
      open.

      No body takes money for h1b, if so then its 99% fraud.

      Reply
  9. Hi there, I’m in a situation where I just joined a company and they are only willing to sponsor me after 3 months evaluation. But the thing is my opt ends in July 2015. Is it too late to apply for h1b In June 2015 instead of April 2015? Is there still chances to apply for it even after April? Thank you so much for your help.

    Reply
    • Yes, it is too late. They can file next year even though you may not be in US. You want to file on April 1 because all visas will be gone in a few days. If you cannot file, try to change employer as university, nonprofit affiliated with university, community college. With these institutions you can file at any time during the year and it is sure to get the visa. It is recommended to file for visa while your OPT is still available. Also, after OPT ends you have 60 days grace period to be in US. You cannot work but can stay to interview if needed. I am in the same situation as you are. Good luck!!!

      Reply
    • Look how 3rd class you ppl are.. you are paying for H1 ! and publicly posting it in forum.. there is a chance of getting arrested.. Per law you are not suppose to pay your employer pr consultancy for H1 application.. if you pay it means you are fake and you dont have jobwith that employer.. These type of fake ppl crowd lottery system …

      Reply
      • Its been going on for years , seems your law hasnt caught up with it , or maybe they want to catch up. This whole H1B business is huge money making for the US legal system. It is bread and butter for the lawyers and attorneys. 200,000 H1s every year, even at a conservative cost of 3K per application, its a Billion dollary industry, and I havent yet counted the countless other type of visas.

        Reply
        • Even drugs business from Mexico to US is multi million dollars business. And far more bigger than H1 crap. It is also bread n butter for many. It doesn’t mean or doesn’t justify that it is legal. Lol

          Reply
    • That’s not true.

      Honestly, LCA should be filed before the end of first week of March so that you have enough time to go ahead with rest of the H1-B petition.

      Reply
  10. Hi blogger,

    This is Abhinav, I am applying for H1b this year from a known consultancy.Is there anyway to track the H1B filed or not by the employer.

    In which month we gonna get the feedback of lottery pick.

    Regards,
    Abhinav

    Reply
  11. Hi Kumar and fellow H1b applicants,

    I have been approached by a consultant willing to file my claim by start of march 2015 for $ 3000 and states I need to submit educational documents and official letters like offer and relieving, I have a 3 year BCA degree and 7 years of work experience,

    I wish to know if that is all that’s necessary for filing an H1b and if $3k is good enough for filling (note $2k being refunded in case no lottery pick).Also should I request a copy of application , LCA and a tracking id in order to keep a tab on what’s going on with the same? Is first or second week of March good enough to start processing?

    Regards,
    AJ

    Reply
    • Hi Aj,

      Can you please share the H1B sponsor details on my emailid
      [email removed spam] as I am also looking for a reliable sponsor.

      Thanks a lot.

      REgards,
      PA.

      Reply
    • Paying for H1 B sponsorship is illegal. You all should be arrested. I am trying to email all of your IDs and this forum posting link to USCIS to make them aware how you all abuse H1 B system.

      Reply
  12. Hi,

    I have done my graduation in commerce (3 yrs) and diploma in design and animation. Have been working in India as a Graphic Designer for last 7 years. Wanted to know can I apply for H1b? I don’t have 4 years of graduation and my experience is in different field than my study.

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  13. I am planning to apply for H1B Visa, My education is distance not regular (B.Com average passout with out +2) did MBA after 8yrs experience in distance but not recieved certficates till now and I did computer certifications in various cources. The cosultancy I’m approaching is asking $4k if fails in Lottry $2.5k will refund. do i trust or try in next year will all things ready.

    Reply
    • OMG !.
      Guys u are all being swindled by these consultancy companies !
      thats daylight robbery !.. 4k for the fees and 2.5 refund ! if it doesnt get picked!. OMG !

      First of all, its completely frowned upon for a consultant to apply on a company’s behalf. if they get to know about this fraud, ur in deep trouble.
      Please go via the legal way always.
      Try to prevent finding shortcuts to success..

      Reply
  14. Hi,

    So there are 2 contradictory things:
    1. One SHOULD not (though technically one can) , on ethical grounds, apply through multiple employers as ultimately it will be a waste of time for other employers whose petition would be a waste/not used/will be withdrawn.
    2. There may be a lottery system this year too (thought there might be a chance for visa cap to get increased – am not sure when and whether it will positively affect this particular season ) . So if I am sincerely filing only through one employer, I reduce my chances of getting selected in the lottery.

    How to resolve this issue in a win-win situation?

    Moreover, is there a document where you have to declare if any other / earlier petitions have been filed? If so, how the 2nd employer onward still agree to do the petition for candidates (knowing that the candidate might go with the other company) ? I mean how can one person be truthful and start multiple processing (through multiple employers) ?

    Thanks in advance for the response.

    Reply
  15. I am on OPT status and I am interested to file for H1B with a university as an employer. Do I need to file on April 1 or can I do it later during the year since this visa is automatically granted?

    Reply
  16. I have got two employers who are ready to sponsor H1B this year.
    1.if any one or both of the applications are picked in lottery, will there be any problem or chance of RFE/rejection/query because of multiple applications?
    2.If both are picked, and if I decided to go for stamping with employer1, during the interview will there be any questions/issues regarding my other application with employer 2?

    Reply
    • @Souj: Dont worry, you can apply through multiple employers and it will in no way harm your chances in rfe/petition approval. speaking from personal experience.

      Reply
      • In your case did you application picked for once or twice. How did you manage the other application if you got both? Please elaborate..

        Reply
      • Hi,
        Just need a confirmation. So filing multiple H1b’s from different employers will not be a problem and reason for rejection this year as well ?

        Reply
  17. Hey Kumar,

    There is a requirement that the LCA be posted on the DOL website for atleast a month. Which means the LCA has to be applied last week of Feb at the latest if the application has to go USCIS on Apr 1st.

    Conversely you can argue that USCIS wont open the application till Apr 7, may be even longer, so it would have been 1 month by then, but it seems that is taking risk. If there is a doubt from DOL or issue with the LCA, things might be delayed we would lose the window the opportunity to apply this year.

    Reply
    • I am not sure where you read that rule. LCA is not posted on DOL website, rather applied there and there is no such rule. Share the DOL official link, where you found that info.

      Reply
      • LCAs are generally approved in 8-10 days (depends upon the workload at DOL).
        IMHO, the job requirement has to be advertised/posted (any where- website, newspaper) for a month, to then subsequently state that due to the lack of sufficiently qualified american citizens for this position, a LCA is requested to hire an alien worker.

        Reply
        • An H-1B petition is not required to be supported by evidence that there is a “lack of sufficiently qualified american citizens for this position”.

          Reply
  18. I had applied for L1B premium processing & got an RFE. my company responded and I got an email from my company saying it is denied. When I checked the USCIS website, it is still saying it is being processed. The 15 day limit is not yet over. Could there be an error in my company email?

    I know I’m hoping against the hope but still just remote wishing that I might still get it approved.

    Reply
    • PC, Sometimes, the online system can be tricky and we have heard that there are some inconsistencies in the data updates. You can call USCIS to re-check on your case, assuming the case number you have is exactly yours.

      Reply
      • You CAN. But the better question is, SHOULD you?

        Should you cheat employers by committing to more than one at a time, having them waste time, money, filing fees, etc? Should you cheat others from their spot as well?

        Good questions.

        Reply
  19. Hi,
    I have almost 4 yrs of experience in healthcare domain in(Claims). I am so much interested to work in US. I can apply for H1B visa. If yes, what documents should I prepared, what is the procedure,how much it will be cost to apply H1b visa. Can please give me briefly information. Please guide me how to proceed.
    Thanks,
    Santosh

    Reply
  20. Hi,
    My employer has conveyed me that they will be filing my Visa this year. So I too will be part of the lottery system. My query is I will be submitting my documents to my employer which in turn will forward it to the attorney. One of the document includes 1st page, last page and 1st blank page of the passport(its blank as I havnt been outside India yet). All this will happen before 10th of March. I will be travelling outside India on toursit visa on 18th march and returning on 31st March. So my passport will be having a stamping of that country when I reach back to India on 31st March. But the document submitted to attorney will not have this entry on my passport. Can someone please let me know if this cause any problems in case I am picked in the lottery?

    Reply
    • Dreamer,
      No, it really does NOT matter. Usually the first and last page of the passport are the main ones required. Middle pages do not matter much. When you file for visa stamping, it will ask in there, the countries visited in the last five years, there you can mention and it will be fine.

      Reply

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