United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Monday that it received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the first week of the FY2014 filing period, which ran from April 1, 2013, to April 5, 2013. As the FY2014 H-1B cap is officially oversubscribed by approximately 39,000 petitions, USCIS will no longer be accepting H-1B cap cases.

On Sunday, April 7, 2013, USCIS conducted a computer-generated random selection process (also known as the "Lottery"), first on U.S. Master’s Degree exemption petitions and then on cases filed under the 65,000 regular category, to select a sufficient number of petitions for the cap. USCIS is now starting to send out rejection notices on cases that were not selected, as well as receipt notices for cases that were selected. Companies should expect to start receiving electronic receipt notices this week on any H-1B petition filed via premium processing. Receipt notices for non-premium processed cases will be received via regular mail during the next 7-14 days. Rejected cases will be returned with uncashed checks at some point over the next 7-21 days.

Companies will be unable to file any new H-1B petitions until next year. Please note that cap-exempt H-1B filings are not affected, so it is possible to still file H-1B extensions and H-1B change of employer petitions. If an individual already holds H-1B status, this notice does not impact them.

Please consider the following:

  • Now that the lottery is completed, USCIS is in the process of sending out receipt notices and rejection packages.
  • Anyone whose H-1B petition is rejected will need to do one of the following:
    • Secure a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) OPT 17-month extension of work authorization. The list of STEM degree programs are available HERE. Only students whose degree fields are listed will qualify for this 17-month extension. The company must be enrolled in E-Verify for the student to obtain this benefit.
    • Obtain extensions of status for anyone already holding work authorization under a different visa category (i.e., TN or L-1 status).
    • Secure an alternative work visa. Companies should assess this possibility with outside immigration counsel.
    • Stop working for the company once a F-1 student’s OPT EAD expires and: (a) secure alternative U.S. immigration status (such as another F-1 status or B-2 status); or (b) leave the country before the end of their 60-day F-1 grace period.

In the meantime, we recommend waiting to see whether a particular case was accepted/rejected for processing by USCIS.