Welcome to H1B Visa Knowledge Base. Here you will find (almost) everything you need to learn about H-1B Visa. There are several (short) videos for you to watch and learn about various stages, steps and topics like Cap Count, Lottery, Deadlines, Processing times, Employers, Jobs to Visa stamping.

H1B Visa 2018 (April 2017)

  • Application Accepted – April 3, 2017
  • Fiscal Year (FY) – October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018
  • Main Blog Post for FY 2018 – H1B Visa 2018

H1B Visa 2017

  • Application Accepted – April 1, 2016 to April 7, 2016
  • Fiscal Year (FY) – October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017
  • Main Blog Post for FY 2017 – H1B Visa 2017

1. What is H1B Visa

H-1B is a non-immigrant dual intent visa, which allows companies to hire foreign workers for specialty occupations.

2. What is LCA for H1B Visa?

LCA stands for Labor Condition Application.  Certified LCA is required to apply for H-1B Visa to USCIS.

3. Receipt Numbers to Processing Times

After H1B Visa application is submitted to USCIS, next stages include:

  • Lottery Process
  • Receipt Number
  • Processing of Application
  • Processing Times

4. H1B Visa Lottery Process

The USCIS will conduct a random selection of petitions if a number of applications received is more than available H1B Cap limits.

Following Flowchart H1B Lottery Process  provides additional details on how lottery random selection happens.

5. H1B Visa Case Status and Various Stages

Following video explains the various stages of H1B Visa application case status. Even though USCIS updated the website to the new format, you can get an idea of what to expect from the previous case status.

6. After H-1B Visa Application is Approved

What to expect when your H1B visa petition is approved by USCIS?

After your H1B petition is approved, you will get Approval Notice. This Approval notice is a form called I797. There’s three kinds of I-797.  Here’s the Difference Between I-797A, I-797B, and I-797C.



H-1B Quota or Cap Numbers

There is a limit on a number of visas available per fiscal year.

  • General Cap – 65,000 per year
  • Advanced Degree Cap – 20,00 per year
  • Cap-Exempt – No Limit

As per USCIS Fiscal starts on October 1 of each year and ends on September, 30 of next year.

If you have completed an Advanced degree from a U.S. Universities, there is an additional 20,000 H1B cap. In previous few years, H-1B  cap was exhausted in the first week of H-1B filing.  Links to H-1B  Cap Count updates table.

Employers that fall under Non-Profit and Research organizations can sponsor H1B, which are Cap-exempt.

H1B Fiscal Year H1B Filing Date Cap Reached
2005 April/1/2004 October/1/2004
2006 April/1/2005 August/10/ 2005
2007 April/1/2006 May/26/2006
2008 April/1/2007 April/2/2007 (lottery)
2009 April/1/2008 April/7/2008 (lottery)
2010 April/1/2009 Dec/21/2009
2011 April/1/2010 Jan/26/2011
2012 April/1/2011 Nov/22/2011
2013 April/1/2012 June/11/2012
2014 April/1/2013 April/5/2013 (lottery)
2015 April/1/2014 April/7/2014 (lottery)
2016 April/1/2015 April/7/2015 (lottery)
2017 April/1/2016 April/7/2016 (lottery)

How to Get the Visa

Refer to this details blog post about – How to Get H1B Visa.

  1. Within the US (from different visa type)
  2. Apply for H1 while you are outside the US (say India)

Processing Time

If H1 application is submitted under regular processing, it can take up to three months for USCIS to review the application and make the decision. If Request For Evidence (RFE) is issued, then it might delay the process.

By paying additional $1000, H1B petition can be submitted through Premium processing. USCIS will take 15 days to decide on your petition status. When USCIS receives your H1 petition, Receipt number will be assigned and mailed back to the petitioner. You will have to ask your attorney or employer for the receipt number.

USCIS the H1B receipt number, you can check the status of your application at USCIS Case Status Online web page.

Application Deadline

There is no deadline to apply for H1b petition. IF H1B cap numbers are available, you can apply any time. For example, USCIS will accept H1 petitions form April 1, 2015, for FY 20156 with the start date of October 1, 2015.

Students on OPT can continue to work for the employer, when H1B is approved with Change of status, then your status will automatically change from F1 OPT to H1B.

Working in the USA on H1 Visa

USCIS will issue H1 for six years in total (2x block of  3 years). H1B holder can work only for the employer who sponsored their H1B Visa. It its illlegal to earn income other than employer while on H1B.  It is possible to have concurrent H1B, that will enable you to work for two different employers.

Students used to prefer working on OPT (Optional Practical Training) as long as possible. Because, under OPT status, you are not required to pay around 7% FICA (Social Security and Medicare) Taxes. You will get additional 7% income. H1B holders are required to pay  FICA taxes.

Note – This page will be frequently updated. Always seek professional help from Immigration attorney. Immigration law in U.S. is complicated, based on your unique situation, the attorney will able to give you the right solution.

Stamping and Interview

After H1B Visa is approved, there are several cases that would decide if you need to go for H1B stamping. [Video – H1B interview  Mock Interview]

  1. With I-94: Generally, if your H1B  (I-797) is approved with I-94 then you can start working from the start date and you should be already in US.
  2. Without I-94: You must get H1 Visa stamping before you can start working. This happens when H1 is approved without Change of Status.
  3. Outside US: If your H1 is approved while you are living outside the US.