Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced receipt of over 236,000 H-1B cap subject petitions during the one week filing period, which began April 1st. Among the 236,000 petitions received included sufficient filings to exhaust both the general-cap of 65,000 as well as the additional 20,000 eligible for the advanced degree exemption.

USCIS further confirmed that it conducted a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, on April 9th, selecting enough petitions to meet the annual quota for the fiscal year. The selection process for the advanced degree exemption was conducted first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.  As announced on March 16, 2016, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 16, 2016. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.

It is important to remember that it may take several weeks for USCIS to issue receipt notices confirming assignment of a cap number and/or to complete the rejections process for unselected petitions.

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 2017 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. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programming.