Final Countdown: H1B Time Limits

"6 years." Get this stuck in your head.

Recently I received the following question:  

"My old H1B visa was valid from December 2008 to September 2011.  I only physically stayed in the U.S. on that visa for 9 months.  Now I want to apply for another H1B visa.  Am I eligible for H1B cap-exempt?"


You are always eligible for a cap-exempt H1B.  That means your petitioning employer is a nonprofit or educational institution, and for that there is no deadline or lottery.  I assume your old H1B was cap-subject?  If you are interested in another cap-subject H1B visa, then it appears the 6 year time limit has expired from your old visa and it can no longer be transferred to a new employer.  

It's important to maintain constant awareness of one's time on H1B.  As you approach 5 years, so too does the H1's "final countdown."  An employer must now submit a fresh petition on your behalf for a new cap-subject H1 next year, which will then be considered in the cap-subject lottery. That filing deadline is April 1 of every year. Otherwise, you can find an employer/sponsor that is cap-exempt.

Thank you for reading this post.  Here is the famous 80's song, The Final Countdown, for your personal enjoyment and to remember an important milepost on your immigration journey.  Shoot us a note if you liked this post or have further questions.


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