U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the H-1B quota for fiscal year 2014 (October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014) was met during the initial filing period from April 1, 2013 to April 5, 2013.

Similar to previous years, the H-1B quota for fiscal year 2014 is limited to 65,000. An additional 20,000 numbers are set aside for individuals who have earned U.S. Master’s or higher degrees. Although the USCIS announced that it had received a sufficient number of petitions for both the regular quota and the U.S. Master’s Degree or higher degree exemption to be met, the USCIS did not indicate the exact number of petitions received. However, because the USCIS received more petitions than the statutory number allowed, the USCIS stated that it will conduct two random selection processes on the petitions received. The first random selection process will be for the petitions received requesting one of the 20,000 U.S. Master’s or higher degree exemption numbers. The U.S, Master’s or higher degree exemption requesting petitions that are not selected in this random selection process will then be added to the petitions considered in the second random selection process for the regular H-1B quota. Petitions that are selected in either random selection process will be adjudicated by the USCIS. Petitions which are not selected in either random selection process will be returned to the employer (or attorney of record).

The USCIS has estimated that it should take approximately one week to complete the random selection processes. Petitions which were filed requesting Premium Processing and which are selected in either random selection processes will be adjudicated beginning on April 15, 2013. The USCIS will then have 15 days from this date to complete its initial adjudication of the Premium Processing petition. As in previous years when the H-1B quota was met during the initial filing period, it is assumed that the USCIS will first issue receipt notices for all of the petitions which were selected in either random selection process. It is assumed that the USCIS will take at least two weeks to process all of these receipt notices. After the receipt notices are issued, the USCIS will then begin to return the petitions that were not selected in either random selection process to employers (or their attorneys of record).

Because the H-1B quota has been met for fiscal year 2014, the earliest date upon which employers may file H-1B quota subject petitions in the future will be April 1, 2014 (with an H-1B employment start date of October 1, 2014 or later). The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions which are not subject to the H-1B quota. If legislation is enacted which increases the H-1B quota numbers available during the fiscal year prior to April 1, 2014, the USCIS would then resume accepting more H-1B quota petitions. Additional information about legislation which is pending in Congress to increase the H-1B quota is contained in our firm’s Immigration Update dated January 30, 2013.