USCIS announced that it received approximately 172,500 H-1B petitions during the first week of the FY2015 filing period, which ran from April 1, 2014 to April 7, 2014. As the FY2015 H-1B cap is officially oversubscribed by approximately 87,500 petitions, USCIS will no longer be accepting H-1B cap cases. The FY2015 H-1B filings marks the highest number of H-1B cap filings in last 5 fiscal years. While the increased number of filings indicates the US economy is improving, it also confirms there will be high casualties.
On April 10, 2014, USCIS conducted a computer-generated random selection process (also known as the “Lottery’) first on US 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. Over the next six weeks, USCIS will start to send out rejection notices on cases that were not selected, as well as receipt notices for cases that were selected. Based on previous statements by USCIS, companies should expect to receive receipt notices for H-1B petitions filed via premium processing by April 28, 2014. USCIS has not released any specific dates for non-premium processed H-1B petitions. However, from past experience, we expect to receive receipt notices for non-premium processed cases via regular mail by mid-May. We anticipate rejected cases will be returned to GT with uncashed checks by the end of May.
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 US 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.
We recommend employers assess alternative options while waiting to see whether a particular case was accepted/rejected for processing by USCIS.