It’s official. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the H-1B statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2015. The announcement came on April 7, 2014. During the first week of the new H-1B filing period, which began April 1, enough H-1B petitions, about 172,500, were received to exhaust the 85,000 limit set by Congress. A computer-generated lottery was completed on April 10 allowing USCIS to select a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet both the 65,000 regular cap and the 20,000 advanced degree cap.
First the petitions for beneficiaries holding at least a Master's degree from a U.S. institution were sorted to randomly select the 20,000 that would be selected for adjudication under the advanced degree exemption. Advanced degree petitions which did not make the first cut were pooled together with the general cap subject petitions. Then a random selection from all those petitions was made to determine the class of 65,000 to be considered for H-1B nonimmigrant classification in FY 2015.
Where do we go from here? Those unlucky petitioners who were not selected in the lottery will receive their rejected filings with fees still intact. Those more fortunate petitioners who joined their H-1B petitions with a request for premium processing should expect action on their cases not later than April 28.
Meanwhile, USCIS will continue to accept and process non cap subject H-1B petitions, including those filed to a) extend the H-1B status of workers currently in the U.S., b) allow H-1B workers to switch employers, c) amend the terms of employment for current H-1B workers, and d) permit concurrent H-1B employment.
Timothy D. Widman is a San Jose Immigration Attorney and the owner of the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman.