Seyfarth Synopsis: USCIS completes the lottery process and receives more than 236,000 H-1B cap petitions.

On April 12, 2016, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received more than 236,000 H-1B petitions to meet both the Master’s and regular H-1B quotas (or “caps”) for Fiscal Year 2017, which begins on October 1, 2016. This means that USCIS received nearly three times the number of available H-1B petitions in the first week of filing, and that more than 20,000 of these petitions were filed under the Master’s cap.

In addition, USCIS announced that they completed a computer-generated random selection process -- the lottery -- for all cap-subject filings received from Friday, April 1 through Thursday, April 7, 2016 to determine which filings to adjudicate. USCIS first conducted the lottery process for H-1B petitions subject to the Master’s cap, which sets aside 20,000 H-1B visas for holders of U.S. Master’s degrees or higher degrees. Any Master’s cap petitions not selected in the Master’s lottery were eligible for selection in the regular H-1B lottery, effectively providing two opportunities for an H-1B visa. USCIS will begin the process of sending Receipt Notices for petitions selected in the lottery while rejecting and returning petitions, together with the associated filing fees, that were not selected in the lottery. USCIS has reiterated that premium processing for all H-1B cap-subject filings will begin no later than May 16, 2016, although premium processing receipt notices have started to arrive via email.

For additional background information on the H-1B visa program and the cap, please see our previous Client Alert titled, “H-1B Work Permit Filings: Will You Beat the Cap?”