As of April 7, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the H-1B quota or “cap” limitation for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS has not yet confirmed the total number of petitions received for the 65,000 “general” quota or the 20,000 “advanced degree” quota but will likely confirm the total number in the following weeks. Due to the high number of petitions received, USCIS has not yet confirmed the date it will complete its computerized random selection or “lottery” of H-1B petitions for further processing.
USCIS will first randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general quota. USCIS will then return all the unselected cap-subject H-1B petitions, including returning the applicants’ filing fee checks. This return process can take several months, and USCIS typically returns the petitions via first class mail.
For FY 2016, USCIS received 233,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions during the first five business days of April, completing its “lottery” on April 14, 2015, and beginning adjudication of cases filed with premium processing on April 27, 2015.