On May 4, 2007, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will reject all petitions received on or after May 1, 2007, requesting a fiscal year 2008 (FY 2008) cap exemption for “workers with a master’s or higher degree earned from a U.S. institution of higher education,” unless the petition is otherwise eligible for a separate cap exemption. USCIS determined that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions requesting such exemptions from the FY 2008 H-1B cap to meet the congressionally mandated exemption limit of 20,000.

All H-1B petitions requesting a FY 2008 cap exemption on behalf of a “foreign worker who has earned a masters degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education” received prior to April 30, 2007, will be reviewed in accordance with the standard USCIS review process. All applications received on April 30, 2007, the “final receipt date,” will be subject to a random lottery. Any petitions received on or after May 1, 2007, as well as those petitions received on April 30 but not chosen by lottery, will be returned with the filing fee(s) unless another basis for an H-1B cap exemption exists. The earliest date to file a petition for FY 2009 is April 1, 2008.

This announcement does not affect petitions involving current H-1B workers. Therefore, USCIS will continue to process petitions for: (1) H-1B extensions; (2) H-1B workers to change the terms of employment; (3) H-1B workers to change employers; and (4) H-1B workers to work in a different H-1B position.