On April 5, 2013, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received sufficient H-1B petitions to meet both the Master's and regular H-1B quotas (or "caps") for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins on October 1, 2013. This means that USCIS received more than 85,000 H-1B petitions in the first week of filing, and that more than 20,000 of these petitions were filed under the Master's H-1B cap. USCIS will use a computer-generated random selection process for all cap-subject filings received from Monday, April 1 through Friday, April 5, 2013 to determine which filings will be adjudicated.
USCIS will apply the lottery process first to cases subject to the H-1B 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 will be eligible for selection in the regular H-1B lottery, effectively providing two opportunities for an H-1B visa. USCIS has not announced the timing for releasing lottery results, but we expect this to happen beginning in mid-April.
USCIS has also announced that for any H-1B petitions filed under Premium Processing, the 15-day Premium Processing adjudication period will begin on April 15.
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?".