USCIS Announces FY 2018 H-1B Cap Lottery Completed and Total Filed Numbers

USCIS H1-B capUnited States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 17, 2017, that it had completed its annual H-1B lottery and had selected a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 65,000 petition bachelor’s degree cap and the 20,000 petition U.S. master’s degree cap. In total, USCIS received 199,000 petitions this year during the filing period that ran from April 3, 2017, until April 7, 2017. On April 11, 2017, the agency completed its random computerized lottery to select the cap petitions. The 20,000 U.S. master’s cap petitions were randomly selected first. All unselected U.S. master’s petitions plus the bachelor’s petitions were then pooled and subjected to the general lottery where 65,000 petitions were selected.

The 199,000 total H-1B petitions filed this year represents 37,000 fewer petitions than were received during last year’s filing period.

USCIS will now begin its process of formally receipting all the selected H-1B petitions, and will reject and return all unelected petitions including filing fees.

Please note that, as of April 3, 2017, USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing on all H-1B petitions, both cap and non-cap cases. Thus, all cases selected under the lottery will be processed under the regular processing timeline.

© 2017, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.

H-1B Cap: The Receipts Are Trickling In!

The July 2015 Visa Bulletin Brings Little ChangeOn April 7, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received more H-1B petitions than available under the statutory cap of 65,000 general-category visas and 20,000 U.S. Master’s visas for the fiscal year. Another record-breaking year: USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the H-1B quota has been reached during the first five business days of April. Before that, the last time the cap had been reached during the first week was in April 2008 for FY 2009. The decreased demand after FY 2009 was due to the effects of the financial crises. H-1B petition submissions have increased each year, as outlined below:

FY 2017


FY 2016


FY 2015


FY 2014


On April 9, USCIS ran the computer-generated lottery to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 Master’s cap. As such, USCIS began issuing Receipt Notices for those cases that “won” the lottery this week. They are slowly “trickling” in. Once the case is “receipted” it still must undergo review and adjudication by USCIS. USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 16, 2016.

Any cases not selected in the lottery will be returned with their filing fees.

We appreciate that, during this period, employers and foreign national employees will be anxious while awaiting the lottery results. Proskauer will continue to update its clients directly and through alerts as to H-1B cap developments.

© 2016 Proskauer Rose LLP.

Ramping Up For H1B Cap Season

USCISEach year, USCIS issues 65,000 H-1B visas and 20,000 “master’s cap” visas. April 1, 2016 is he first date on which an H-1B petition may be filed for FY 2017, in anticipation of an October 1, 2016 start date. Last year, USCIS accepted 233,000 petitions in the first week. A lottery was conducted and over 60% of all petitions were rejected.

What does this mean?

Employers need to be prepared to file H-1B petitions on April 1. Now is the time to review your employees’ immigration status and start talking to your managers and HR teams to identify employees who may need H1B sponsorship in 2017.  Many possible candidates may be working pursuant to an Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization card that may not expire until sometime in 2017. We nevertheless strongly suggest filing petitions for these employees for this fiscal year as well to maximize their chance for selection in the H-1B lottery.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2015

2016 H-1B Filing Season Is Here

Now is the time for employers to assess their FY2017 H-1B needs and to start preparing their petitions for submission on April 1.

On April 1, 2016, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting cap-subject H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2017 with an employment start date of October 1, 2016. We recommend that employers send all H-1B petitions subject to the FY2017 cap to USCIS on March 31 so that USCIS receives them on April 1. USCIS will reject any cap-subject H-1B petition that it receives before April 1.

USCIS has a quota of 65,000 cap-subject H-1B visas each fiscal year. A separate allotment of 20,000 H-1B visas is available to foreign nationals who hold a master’s degree or other advanced degree from a US institution of higher education. As indicated in the table below, demand for H-1B visas has fluctuated in past years. A few years ago, it took months to reach the cap; recently, in 2014 and 2015, the cap was reached within the first few days of filing. Although it is not possible to predict with complete accuracy what the demand for H-1B visas will be this year, an improving economy and an increasing demand for qualified workers, especially in the information technology industry, strongly suggest that demand will be high and that the cap will be reached again very early this year, possibly within a week of April 1. Employers should therefore submit their cap-subject H-1B petitions as early as possible.


Date H-1B Cap Reached

2009 (FY2010)

December 21, 2009

2010 (FY2011)

January 26, 2011

2011 (FY2012)

November 22, 2011

2012 (FY2013)

June 11, 2012

2013 (FY2014)

April 5, 2013

2014 (FY2015)

April 7, 2014

2015 (FY2016)

April 7, 2015

By law, 6,800 of the 65,000 H-1B visas are allocated as H-1B1 visas to nationals of Chile and Singapore.

Only petitions filed on behalf of foreign nationals who have not previously been counted against the H-1B cap in the last six years are subject to this year’s H-1B cap. Accordingly, most H-1B change of employer petitions are not subject to the cap. H-1B petitions for foreign nationals employed by institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations, or for employment at governmental research organizations are not subject to the cap.

How This Affects You

Employers should review the immigration status of their current and potential foreign national employees and identify any individuals for whom H-1B status would be beneficial. These individuals include the following:

  • Recent graduates employed in F-1 status and candidates abroad who are subject to the annual H-1B cap

  • Candidates in some other nonimmigrant status (e.g., L-1B) who are approaching the maximum limits of their status and would benefit from a change of status to H-1B

  • Candidates in another nonimmigrant status who work for a different employer and would require an H-1B visa to change jobs

  • Candidates in TN, E, or H-1B1 status for whom an employer is considering pursuing permanent residence

Note that if the limit on H-1B visa numbers is reached on any one of the first five business days of the cap season, all petitions that USCIS receives between Friday, April 1 and close of business on Thursday, April 7 will still be accepted, but their selection for adjudication will be subject to USCIS conducting a lottery among them. USCIS has held a lottery for the last three years, and it is likely that it will do so again this year.

Copyright © 2015 by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All Rights Reserved.

Business Immigration: 2016 H-1B Cap, You’ve Been Warned, Now Here Are This Year’s Key Dates

Greenberg Traurig Law firm

Fiscal Year 2016 H-1B Cap

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting new H-1B petitionsfor fiscal year 2016 on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Employers must immediately start identifying current and future employees who will need to be sponsored for new H-1B petitions.

This chart identifies the absolute latest cut-off dates to file Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) and H-1B petitions for this year’s H-1B quota (H-1B cap).

It is extremely likely that this year’s H-1B quota (H-1B cap) will be met within five business days of it opening and USCIS will then stop accepting new petitions until next year’s H-1B cap, which will open on April 1, 2016. If USCIS receives more petitions than are available in the quota, then a lottery will be conducted to select the petitions that will be processed under the H-1B cap.

Please note that only new H-1B petitions are affected by the H-1B cap; H-1B petitions involving someone who has already been counted against the H-1B cap or who has previously held H-1B status are not affected by the H-1B cap.

H1-B Key Dates

By way of background, U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupation positions that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers or computer programmers. The number of initial H-1B visas available to U.S. employers (the H-1B cap) is 65,000, with an additional 20,000 numbers set aside for individuals who have obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher.

The usage of the H-1B program is strongly connected to the health of the U.S. economy. The rate at which USCIS has received cap-subject H-1B petitions in the past few years has dramatically increased as the economy has improved. For example, last year USCIS received 172,500 H-1B petitions within the first week of filing, requiring a lottery in order to select the petitions needed to meet the regular cap of 65,000 and master’s cap of 20,000. Business immigration practitioners are predicting that this year’s H-1B demand will be even greater than last year (perhaps 200,000 or more filings during the first week of the filing season, April 1, 2015, through April 7, 2015) and as a result more than half of all H-1B petitions filed by employers may be rejected by USCIS due to the randomized lottery system.

Petitions not selected in the H-1B lottery will be rejected. Should such a rejection occur, an affected foreign national seeking immigration and employment authorization sponsorship with an employer will be unable to obtain an H-1B visa until at least Oct. 1, 2016, (with the filing season beginning April 1, 2016). Affected foreign nationals may also be required to forego employment with employers and possibly leave the United States. In such cases employers will need to look at alternative visa options for employees unable to secure an H-1B visa.

Recommended Action

Based upon the above, Greenberg Traurig’s Business Immigration & Compliance group strongly urges employers to file H-1B cap-subject petitions with USCIS on the earliest possible date in fiscal year 2016: mailing of H-1B cap-subject petitions to USCIS on March 31, 2015, for delivery to USCIS on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, the very first day of filing. This will provide the best possible chance for acceptance of the H-1B petition.

It also is recommended that H-1B cases should be initiated immediately. It can take two to four weeks or more to gather all of the necessary information and documentation, and prepare the requisite forms and supporting documentation for filing of an H-1B petition. Required information from the employer will include: (1) job title; (2) job description; (3) job location; (4) minimum education and experience required for the position; and (5) offered wage/salary. Required information from the employee will include: (1) resume; (2) educational documents (diplomas and transcripts); and (3) any documents related to prior or current U.S. immigration status.



It’s H-1B Season! Employers Urged to Begin Preparation of New H-1B Visa Petitions for April 1st Filing

Michael Best Logo

On April 1st each year, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting petitions from employers seeking to employ newH-1B workers during the next fiscal year. The number of available new H-1Bs is capped at 65,000 per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 slots available to foreign nationals holding advanced degrees from U.S. institutions. This fixed number of H-1Bs available per fiscal year is known as the “H-1B cap.”

If, during the first five business days of April, USCIS receives more H-1B petitions than it is allowed to adjudicate, USCIS will randomly select H-1B petitions for adjudication among all of the petitions received during the five-day filing window. In 2014, USCIS received more than 172,000 petitions within the brief filing window; we anticipate that the number of petitions filed during this year’s five-day window will again exceed the H-1B cap. To ensure that H-1B petitions are included within the random selection process, we recommend that employers make hiring decisions for foreign national workers and job applicants as soon as possible and prepare to file petitions for new H-1B employment so that the petitions are received by USCIS on or about April 1, 2015.

In most cases, individuals who currently have H-1B status, whether with you or another employer, need not worry about the annual H-1B cap. However, other individuals, including those who are currently in F-1 (student) or J-1 (exchange visitor) status may need new H-1B petitions filed on their behalf in order to transition to H-1B employment and avoid gaps in employment authorization. Please note that the H-1B cap does not apply to employees of (i) colleges and universities; (ii) nonprofit organizations related to or affiliated with a nonprofit college or university; or (iii) nonprofit or governmental research organizations.