United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Announces H-1B Cap Reached for Fiscal Year 2016

April 7, 2015

For the third consecutive year, USCIS has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B numerical cap within the first five business days of April - the earliest eligible filing period.  As a result, employers are not able to submit any further cap-subject H-1B petitions until April 1, 2016.  Under current law, 65,000 H-1B visas are available each fiscal year to individuals who possess a bachelor's degree, or the equivalent, and will be working in a related specialty occupation.  An additional 20,000 H-1B visas are available to individuals who possess an advanced degree (i.e., master's degree or higher) from a United States university, college or educational institution.        

 

USCIS confirmed that it has received enough cap-subject H-1B petitions to exhaust the regular H-1B cap of 65,000 visas, as well as the advanced degree cap of 20,000 visas.  USCIS will administer a computer-generated lottery process to randomly select which cases will be granted an H-1B cap number and which cases will be returned to the petitioning employer.  USCIS will first randomly assign H-1B cap numbers from the 20,000 visa reserved for individuals with advanced degrees.  If a case does not receive an H-1B cap number under the advanced degree quota, it is then entered into the pool of cases eligible for an H-1B cap number under the regular 65,000 limit.  

 

If a petition does not receive an H-1B cap number, the government will return the petition along with any government filing fees.  USCIS has not confirmed the number of cap-subject H-1B petitions received in the first five business days of April, however, the total is expected to exceed last year's record of 172,500 cap-subject petitions.  The government is expected to begin adjudicating cap-subject H-1B petitions filed under Premium Processing Service no later than May 11, 2015.  Cap-subject H-1B petitions that were not filed under Premium Processing Service are not likely to be adjudicated before the end of May or early June and may pend for several months.  The government has not indicated when it expects to begin returning petitions that are not selected for an H-1B cap number under the computer-generated lottery.

 

USCIS' announcement may be viewed here.

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