On April 7, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received more H-1B petitions than available under the statutory cap of 65,000 general-category visas and 20,000 U.S. Master's visas for the fiscal year. Another record-breaking year: USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the H-1B quota has been reached during the first five business days of April. Before that, the last time the cap had been reached during the first week was in April 2008 for FY 2009. The decreased demand after FY 2009 was due to the effects of the financial crises. H-1B petition submissions have increased each year, as outlined below:

FY 2017 236,000
FY 2016 233,000
FY 2015 172,500
FY 2014 124,000

On April 9, USCIS ran the computer-generated lottery to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 Master's cap. As such, USCIS began issuing Receipt Notices for those cases that "won" the lottery this week. They are slowly "trickling" in. Once the case is "receipted" it still must undergo review and adjudication by USCIS. USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 16, 2016.

Any cases not selected in the lottery will be returned with their filing fees.

We appreciate that, during this period, employers and foreign national employees will be anxious while awaiting the lottery results. Proskauer will continue to update its clients directly and through alerts as to H-1B cap developments.