H1B Visa Quota and H1B Cap Systems Explained

Every year there is an annual Quota (limit) of 'new' H1B visas that can be issued; which is also known as the H1B Cap. The total H1B quota allocation is divided between the Regular H1B Cap and the ADE H1B Cap.

In addition to the Regular and ADE cap subject quotas:

- H1B cap exempt visas are available all year.

- H1B transfer visas are available all year.

• What is the H1B cap and H1B quota system ?
learn about the H1B cap and quota system and what factors influence it each year 

• View historical H1B cap filing statistics and trends for the visa program over the years
see the past H1B cap numbers and how long the quota lasted during previous years

How Long Does the H1B Cap Last Each Year ?
The duration that the H1B visa cap lasts each year, and the speed that it's reached depends on many variable factors and can change each year. Essentially, the cap lasts until such time as all the visas for that years quota have been filed and issued. Sponsorship recruitment for H1B visas takes place all year round by many sponsor companies (especially larger corporations) to ensure they have time to plan, recruit, select, prepare, file and get issued visas for the workers they want, within the annual H1B quota limits and time frames.  

When the ADE cap is filled, can visas still be filed for the Regular cap ?
Yes, the ADE cap is set aside for International students that graduate with a Masters or higher level degree from a US University/College. The ADE H1B cap always gets filled before the Regular cap because it's smaller in numbers. When the ADE cap is filled, students can still continue to file H1B visa applications to be counted and issued from the Regular H1B cap.

What's The Last Date That H1B Visas Can Be Filed - is There a Cut-Off Date ?
There's often confusion about a 'cut-off date' or 'deadline' thinking that the H1B cap ends on October 1st each year and that no visas can be applied for and filed after October 1st. The fact is there is No fixed or set cut-off date for filing H1B visas. H1B visas can be applied for and filed towards the cap numbers until such date as All the visas have been issued.

For example: IF there are still H1B visas available in October or December, visas can still be filed for and issued (with immediate employment start dates). The relevance of the October 1st date is only that it is the first date that anyone who has been issued a cap-subject visa earlier in the year (from April-September), can start work for their new employer / sponsor company.


What is the H1B Cap-Subject and Visa Quota System ?

The H1B cap is the number of H1B visas available during a Fiscal Year
The H1B visa cap is also commonly termed as the H1B visa quota 

The H1B Cap-Subject Visa system is split down further into 2 groups:

- there is the Regular Cap, and
- there is also the ADE Cap

A Total of 85,000 cap subject H1B visas are available and can be issued each year:
- 65,000 cap subject visas are available for the Regular Cap
- 20,000 cap subject visas are available for the ADE Cap

The Regular H1B Cap is available to those living abroad that want to obtain their first H1B visa, and to those in the US that want to change their current visa status to H1B visa status

The ADE Cap (Advanced Degree Exemption) is available to those that graduate from a US university/college with an Masters level or higher level degree

H1B Visa Cap Start Date:
H1B cap subject visa petitions can start to be filed from April 1st each year
As H1B visas are filed and issued, they are counted against the cap numbers
H1B visas can continue to be filed until the cap has been reached
Sponsorship employment recruitment starts from January for the year

H1B Visa Cap End Date:
There is No fixed end date or deadline or cut off date to file H1B visas.
They can continue to be filed until the cap / quota is reached (until all 85,000 visas have been issued). When all 85,000 H1B visas have been issued the cap closes for the year.

H1B Status and Visa Petition Tracking
To check the status of an H1B visa that has been filed and a receipt number issued, both the sponsoring company and the future H1B worker can track the status of the application during processing by the USCIS. View more H1B status and visa tracking information

Factors that affect and influence the H1B visa cap each year:
Every year there is not one, but many different factors that can all, or in part, combine to influence what will happen during each year for H1B sponsorship employment demand, and for the volume of H1B visas that are filed by US employers. 

Each factor carries a 'weight' and some are more important and influential than others.

The H1B market is determined by both the timing and the level of fusion between all the different factors during the course of each year. 

These factors determine the duration, and how quickly the H1B cap will be reached each year:

- supply: the fixed number of H1B visas that are available to be issued for the year
- supply - versus the demand by Foreign nationals who want to obtain H1B visas + the demand by US companies who want to hire H1B workers
- current H1B rules, regulations and processes for visa sponsorship and visa petition filing
- new H1B rules and laws that affect which companies can or can not sponsor/file visas
- overall economic conditions
- economic conditions for each industry sector and sub-sectors
- momentum and demand within new emerging markets  
- economic conditions for different geographical locations   
- overall employment conditions
- employment demand for different industry sectors and sub-sectors
- employment demand for different professions and levels of profession
- employment demand in different geographic locations
- the overall current demand for H1B workers by US companies
- qualified labor shortages at 'H1B-level' for specialty professions
- qualified labor shortages at 'H1B-level' in different geographic locations
- the number of new sponsor companies that enter the market to hire and file visas
- the number of Foreign nationals that seek to obtain H1B sponsorship and work visas
- is there a lottery selection or a deadline cut off date to file visa applications 
- overall consumer perception and market confidence rates
- some mainstream media and political news and hype that surrounds the H1B visa program
- will anything new, unexpected and unforeseen happen in the market or with the immigration system that could directly or indirectly affect the H1B visa program 

H1B Visa Cap Historical Statistics and Trends from 2003 - Present
From 1999 to 2002 the cap was temporarily raised to 195,000 during Y2K and the dotcom boom, but was not reached during those Fiscal Years
The ADE cap of an additional 20,000 visas was introduced in 2005 (FY2006)

* Each year H1B visas can start to be filed from April 1st onwards
The chart below shows the number of H1B visas available during each year and the dates reflecting the duration and speed that the cap was reached

H1B Cap Numbers
Date H1B Cap Reached
H1B 2003 (FY 2004 cap)  
October 1, 2003
H1B 2004 (FY 2005 cap) 
October 1, 2004
H1B 2005 (FY 2006 cap) 
August 10, 2005
H1B 2006 (FY 2007 cap) 
May 26, 2006
H1B 2007 (FY 2008 cap) 
April 3, 2007
H1B 2008 (FY 2009 cap)   
April 7, 2008
H1B 2009 (FY 2010 cap) 
December 21, 2009 
H1B 2010 (FY 2011 cap)   
January 26, 2011
H1B 2011 (FY 2012 cap)
November 22, 2011

H1B 2012 (FY 2013 cap) 85,000 June 11, 2012

H1B 2013 (FY 2014 cap)   85,000
April 5 2013

H1B 2014 (FY 2015 cap)                                              85,000                                                     April 7 2014

H1B 2015 (FY 2016 cap)                                              85,000                                                     April 7 2015

H1B 2016  (FY 2017 cap)                                             85,000                                                     April 7 2016

H1B 2017 (FY 2018 cap)                                              85,000                                                 

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