The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that, as of Friday, April 7th, they have received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the annual H-1B cap for the 2018 fiscal year (FY2018). According to USCIS, they have received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for beneficiaries with U.S. master’s degree and more than the 65,000 general H-1B cap petitions. As a result, any cap-subject H-1B petitions received by USCIS after April 7, 2017 will be rejected.
The Lottery Process
USCIS will use a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as the “lottery”) for all FY 2018 cap-subject petitions received between April 3 and April 7, 2017. The agency will conduct the selection process for advanced degree exemption petitions first. All advanced degree petitions not selected will be part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit. Due to the high number of petitions received, USCIS is not yet able to announce the exact day of the random selection process.; however, our past experience suggests that the lottery should be completed by the end of April. Also, the total number of petitions received is not yet known due to the large volume of applications.
Petitions Not Selected under the Lottery Will Be Returned With Filing Fees
Petitions accepted for filing but not selected under the lottery will be returned to the petitioners together with the filing fees (unless there were duplicate filings by the same employer for the same beneficiary, in which case no fees will be returned).
Petitions which are selected under the lottery will be issued receipt notices and will be put in a processing queue. Due to the heavy demand this year, we expect the H-1B processing times to be somewhat long. All H-1B cap cases will likely have to wait until late April or May to find out if they have been accepted under the H-1B cap lottery when the receipt notices start to be issued.
H-1B Cap-Exempt Petitions Still Accepted
It should be noted that USCIS continues to accept cap-exempt H-1B petitions. These are petitions generally filed by universities and non-profit research organizations (read more about cap-exempt employers). Also, H-1B extensions and H-1B transfers are cap-exempt.
The FY2018 H-1B cap was reached, as anticipated during the first week it was open. The reasons for the high H-1B demand this year may be caused by the improving economy. Another reason may be the fact that due to the uncertainty of the new administration’s H-1B work visa policy, many employers and candidates wanted to apply under the current system before any possible changes are introduced.
We will continue providing updates on the FY2018 H-1B cap season, including filing statistics, as they become available. In the meantime, please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to obtain developments on this and related topics. If our office can be of any help, please feel free to contact us.