When can I apply for a fresh, new H-1B?


I am nearing the end of my 6 years on an H-1B visa, and my employer is willing to hire me again on a fresh, new visa. We already know that in order to do this, I must leave the country for one year and apply to a new H-1B cap. I also know that I cannot apply for any other non-immigrant visas during that one year period.

My question is WHEN can I actually APPLY for the new visa? Do I have to wait until one full year has passed to apply, or can I apply within the year but just stay abroad until the one year has passed? To put a timeline to my question: my visa expires September 8, 2014. If I leave the U.S. around that time, can I apply to the H-1B cap on April 1, 2015 and return to the U.S. in October 2015? Or would I have to apply April 1, 2016?

Additionally, here are some specifics to my situation:
- My employer is not able to file the green card. So that will not be an option.
- I have been out of the country on vacation for about 2 months while on H-1B status.
- I have a Master’s degree so I will be first placed in the 20,000 Master’s exemption.

Thanks in advance for your help.