For the fourth year in a row, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the statutory cap for H-1B cap-subject petitions within the first five business days of April.

For fiscal year (FY) 2017, the cap was reached on April 7, 2016 as USCIS received over 236,000 petitions, setting an all-time record. USCIS completed the lottery selection on April 9, 2016 and finished all data entry of selected petitions on May 2, 2016.

As of this writing, most cap case petitioners or their attorneys already should have received an email notification and/or receipt notice if their petition was selected in the lottery. Further, because USCIS has begun premium processing cap-subject petitions with such request on May 12, 2016, all premium cases are expected to receive a result or USCIS’s request for evidence (RFE) notice by May 27, 2016.

Adjudication of non-premium cases will begin later and is likely to continue through mid-August. But USCIS could issue RFEs for these cases at any point during this period.

For petitions not selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition packages along with the filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing. In recent years, returned packages have been received through June and we expect the same to be true this year given the higher filing volume. While predictions are difficult until USCIS starts to return petitions that were not selected in the lottery, those who have not yet received an email notification or receipt notice may need to consider alternative visa options in the very near future.