On April 13, 2015, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) announced that CIS received almost 233,000 FY-2016 H-1B petitions during the filing period from April 1-7, 2015. On April 13th, the CIS applied the required random selection process (“lottery”) to select petitions under both the Master’s cap (20,000 cases) and Regular cap (up to 65,000 cases).

The CIS expects to begin premium processing adjudications by May 11th, which means employers should receive decisions or other CIS action no later than May 26th for cap petitions filed with a request for premium processing.

Cap-subject H-1B petitions not selected in the lottery will be returned to the employer, along with filing fees, unless the employer filed an impermissible “duplicate” filing.

The CIS has not yet given a specific deadline for issuance of Receipt Notices for non-premium processed cases or the return of unselected petitions.

Employers may continue to file petitions not subject to the annual H-1B quota. Specifically, the following petitions may be filed even though the H-1B cap has been reached:

  1. H-1B Petition Extensions and Amendments for existing H-1B employees
  2. H-1B Change of Employer petitions for candidates counted under a previous year’s H-1B cap who hold H-1B status and are seeking a change of employer
  3. H-1B Petitions on behalf of employees of institutions of higher education
  4. H-1B Petitions on behalf of employees of Nonprofit Organizations affiliated with institutions of higher education
  5. H-1B Petitions on behalf of employees of Nonprofit Research Organizations or Governmental Research Organizations
  6. H-1B Petitions on behalf of candidates who were previously granted H-1B status in the past six years and have not left the United States for more than one year after attaining H-1B status
  7. H-1B Petitions filed on behalf of J-1 nonimmigrant physicians who have received a Conrad 30 J-1 waiver

Additionally, other work authorized categories may be appropriate for beneficiaries not selected under the H-1B quota. Other categories include:

  1. H-1B1 category for Chileans and Singaporean specialty occupation professionals;
  2. TN category for NAFTA professionals – citizens of Canada or Mexico employed in certain professions;
  3. H-3 for temporary training, especially in preparation for employment with the company abroad;
  4. L-1 for certain intra-company transferees employed with the company abroad for at least one year;
  5. E-1 and E-2 Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor visa categories based on trade or investment treaties;
  6. E-3 category for Australian specialty occupation professionals;
  7. O-1 for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability; and
  8. Under appropriate circumstances, short-term stays as B-1 visitors.

In addition to these work-authorized visa categories, dependent spouses of E and L visa holders are eligible to apply for work authorization. Beginning May 26, 2015, H-4 spouses of certain H-1B visa holders also will become eligible to apply for work authorization.