U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on May 2, 2016, that it has completed data entry of all fiscal year 2017 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in a computer-generated random lottery. Mintz Levin has received receipts for both premium processing and regular processing cases for our clients, which we expect to continue for perhaps another week. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected in the lottery. USCIS has not confirmed a definite time frame for returning these petitions. USCIS stated it will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned.
USCIS previously announced on April 7, 2016, that it had received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap. In fact, USCIS received nearly 236,000 H-1B petitions in total during this filing period from April 1 through April 7, 2016.
On April 9, USCIS used a lottery to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 master’s cap. USCIS conducted the selection process for the master’s cap petitions first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the general cap of 65,000.
USCIS has stated that it will begin to adjudicate selected H-1B cap cases that were filed under their premium processing program no later than May 16, 2016. There is no indication yet as to when other selected petitions will be processed.
USCIS will continue to accept and process H-1B petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap are exempt. USCIS will also continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
- Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
- Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
- Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
- Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
Please contact an attorney with Mintz Levin’s Immigration Practice to discuss any questions you may have about H-1B sponsorship or alternatives to the H-1B visa.