On May 4, 2015, USCIS announced that it has completed data entry of all fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions. USCIS had previously announced on April 13, 2015 that it had received 233,000 petitions submitted by petitioners seeking H-1B employment status for employees to commence employment on October 1, 2015. That number represented an increase of more than 60,000 petitions received for the fiscal year 2015 H-1B cap. While the cap remained the same from last fiscal year to this fiscal year, the number of petitions submitted rose by a robust 35%. This means that more than 60% of all cases filed were rejected.

USCIS will now start the process of returning submitted H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected for H-1B processing. It is unclear how long the process will take, but based on precedent from previous years and the high volume of petitions submitted, it could be ongoing throughout the month of May. As of this week, USCIS continues to issue Receipt Notices for those petitions which have been randomly selected for review and processing, and remaining Receipt Notices for selected petitions will likely continue for another week to two weeks from this writing.

USCIS will issue a further announcement once all of the submitted but unselected H-1B petitions have been returned to petitioning employers. Employers who have not yet received Receipt Notices may want to consider other possible options and strategies for employment of the beneficiaries of their submitted petitions. Although the H-1B nonimmigrant visa classification is the most popular for employees possessing a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and performing jobs that require that degree, it is conceivable that other classifications may also be a fit for employees who are beneficiaries of unselected petitions, depending on the facts and circumstances of a given case.

Jackson Lewis P.C. assisted with the filing of several hundred H-1B cases this year. Join us Thursday, June 11 for a free client webinar that will provide information for possible options available to employers whose case(s) were not chosen in the H-1B Visa Lottery: “So You Didn’t Win the H-1B Visa Lottery – What’s Next?”