Each year, USCIS issues 65,000 H-1B visas and 20,000 “master’s cap” visas. April 1, 2016 is he first date on which an H-1B petition may be filed for FY 2017, in anticipation of an October 1, 2016 start date. Last year, USCIS accepted 233,000 petitions in the first week. A lottery was conducted and over 60% of all petitions were rejected.

What does this mean?

Employers need to be prepared to file H-1B petitions on April 1. Now is the time to review your employees’ immigration status and start talking to your managers and HR teams to identify employees who may need H1B sponsorship in 2017. Many possible candidates may be working pursuant to an Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization card that may not expire until sometime in 2017. We nevertheless strongly suggest filing petitions for these employees for this fiscal year as well to maximize their chance for selection in the H-1B lottery.