On April 17, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it has completed its random lottery to determine which of the H-1B cap cases that it received from Monday, April 3, to Friday, April 7, 2017, are going to be accepted and receipted for this year’s H-1B cap. In its notice, USCIS indicated that it had made the random selection on April 11, 2017, for the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 U.S. master-degree or higher cap. At the same time, USCIS advised that it had received 199,000 H-1B petitions during the April 3 to April 7 cap window—less than the 236,000 H-1B petitions that USCIS reported receiving last year. The drop in applications may be due to some employers having concerns regarding the uncertainty of the H-1B process and fewer IT consulting firms sponsoring H-1B petitions as a part of their business model.
As in past years, USCIS conducted the selection process for the U.S. master-degree or higher cap first, and those not selected then became part of the random selection for the 65,000 general-category cap. USCIS has not announced when it will issue receipts confirming cap selection, but we have already started receiving a few as of Monday, April 17. We will advise each of our clients as soon as we receive an H-1B cap receipt and will issue an updated alert in the event that USCIS makes further announcements.