On April 7, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it had reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018 (“FY18”). This announcement applies to both the general cap of 65,000 and the additional cap of 20,000 for those with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. The USCIS announced further that it will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings. The agency will continue to accept and process H-1B cap exempt petitions. However, employers should remember that, as of April 3, 2017, premium processing was suspended for up to six months for all H-1B petitions, including cap-exempt petitions.
Once the USCIS completes its intake of all FY18 H-1B petitions received by last Friday, the agency will conduct computer-generated lotteries to determine which H-1B petitions have been selected for processing. The USCIS will first hold the advanced degree lottery for the 20,000 visas in that cap category. Once that lottery is completed, the unselected petitions will be added to the lottery for the 65,000 general category. Petitions that are not selected in either lottery will be formally rejected and returned with their filing fees.
Due to the enormous volume of H-1B petitions filed for FY18, the USCIS is presently unable to predict when it will be able to conduct these lotteries. Stay tuned!