April 1st is the soonest employers may file H-1Bs for beneficiaries who have never been in H-1B status before (cap-subject H-1Bs). How long the window will open for cap-subject H-1Bs is impossible to predict, but with the strengthened job market, employers should operate with the assumption that the H-1B cap will be reached before April is over.
Due to the time consuming steps required before an H-1B can be filed (certifying a Labor Condition Application, obtaining evaluation reports for foreign degrees, obtaining translations for foreign language documents, etc.), we urge employers to notify us with the names and emails of the candidates they wish to file cap-subject H-1Bs for in early March.
As a reference, the H-1B cap window has shrunk in each of the past three fiscal years:
· The FY 2011 cap was reached on 1/26/11 (9+ months).
· The FY 2012 cap was reached on 11/22/11 (7+ months).
· The FY 2013 H-1B cap was reached on 06/11/12 (2+ months).
Note: the H-1B cap does not affect H-1B extensions, transfers and amendments. Only H-1Bs for beneficiaries who have not received an H-1B approval previously are subject to the cap.