After much anticipation, the USCIS has begun returning H-1B petitions that were rejected for the statutory cap for Fiscal Year 2015. Our office has begun receiving these petitions as of June 2nd. On Friday, May 2nd, the USCIS announced that it had completed receipting all H-1B petitions that were selected. All petitions that were not selected in the quota are being returned via regular mail to the mailing address listed on the petition. These returned petitions will include uncashed government filing fee checks. An employer should not assume that their petition was not selected in the quota until the employer receives an unprocessed petition in the mail.

On April 10th the USCIS began issuing email notifications for petitions that were selected in the quota that requested premium processing. On April 28th the USCIS began processing these petitions and many employers received decisions or requests for additional evidence for these petitions throughout May. The USCIS has indicated that its goal for processing regular (non-premium processing) petitions will be 60 days. However, we anticipate that it may take the USCIS up to several months to process these petitions. Case in point, last year's cap when the USCIS took over six months to process some petitions. If a faster decision is required, a petitioner always has the option of upgrading the petition to premium processing with the payment of the additional government fee of $1,225.

Similarly to last fiscal year, the cap was reached within the first week that the statutory cap opened. The USCIS received 172,500 petitions, more than the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for the regular quota and the additional 20,000 allotted for individuals who earned a U.S. Master's degree or higher. When the USCIS receives too many petitions for the limited number of visas available per fiscal year, it conducts a random, computer-generated lottery to choose which petitions it will accept and process. Employers should evaluate other work visa options, if any are available, and plan ahead to understand the ramifications of non-selection of their cap-subject H-1B petitions.