H1b cap reached, OPT visa ending Feb 2013

Hi all,
My OPT visa started this February 2012, and it’s expiring on February 2013. I know it’s different than most others, as I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media Journalism and Magazine Journalism on December 2011.

I'm still looking for an employer that'll sponsor me an h1b visa. I just recently found out that the h1b cap has been reached this year, and since the next cap won't open until April 2013, can anyone tell me what my options are since my OPT visa is expiring 2 months before the next cap opens? What are my options to keep my visa status legal? What if I find an employer who will sponsor me.. will I still have to go home on February 2013?

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate it.

Since your OPT expires 2 months before April 1st, your only options are

	Look for a Cap-exempt employer like a University/Non-profit organization

	Consider a double Masters program in which case you can't avail the OPT again

Thanks for the reply! Isn’t there a 60-day grace period after your OPT expires? My OPT expires on Feb 3 2013. Let’s say I apply with Premium Processing on April 1 2013 - is that a possibility?

In your question you mentioned “my OPT visa is expiring 2 months before the next cap opens?” so I assumed it should be on or before Feb 1. If its Feb 3 then you can definitely apply and continue to stay in the US until Oct 1st or the adjudication of your petition whichever is earlier. But since you would be applying in the 60day grace period you won’t be eligible to work between Feb 4-Oct 1.

Thanks, Vicky! And sorry for not being too specific in my initial message. So right now, my options are to either apply to a university/non-profit organization, or wait to apply on April 1, 2013.

So if I find an employer within the next few weeks/months, when should I and my employer start preparing for the documentations required for submission on April 1, 2013? Also, will I have to leave the US and re-enter on October in that case?

Thank you so much for your responses, Vicky!

Also, I’m currently interning for a non-profit ethnic news organization in San Francisco. The reason why I couldn’t request for full-time employment (even after interning there for more than 3 months) was because their funds/grants do not come in until mid-July, and my supervisor whom I’ve discussed my situation with recommended that I wait until then otherwise my request will just be denied. Will that kind of non-profit organization count as a cap-exempt?

  1. In general it could take 2-3weeks for LCA and other related processes. Hence it might be ideal to start working on H1b related documentation by early or Mid March.
  2. As long as you apply before Apr 3, you can legally continue to stay in the US by applying for a Cap-Gap OPT. So whether to stay/leave is your personal choice.
  3. There is no specific published list of Cap-Exempt employers but most Universities and non-profits are covered. Your best bet would be to check with the specific employer about his Cap exempt status