U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2015 that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2016. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the masters cap.
On April 13, 2015, USCIS announced that it received nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 13, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption.
USCIS conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit. USCIS received 60,500 more H-1B petitions than in 2014 (FY 2015) when it received approximately 172,500 H-1B petitions. Here’s a comparison of H-1B usage in previous years.
Cases that are selected as part of the H-1B lottery will likely receive receipt notices within the next few weeks. For petitions not selected as part of the H-1B cap, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.
USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 11, 2015.
USCIS will continue to accept and process 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 will also not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2016 H-1B cap. USCIS will 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.