USCIS has announced that it received a record-breaking 233,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 13, 2014, USCIS completed its computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing. See USCIS’ Announcement here.

The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

USCIS will begin the process of issuing receipt notices for those petitions accepted for processing and returning the complete filings of those petitions rejected/not selected. Until the receipt notice or rejection package received by the attorney or petitioning employer, it is not possible to know whether any particular application has, in fact, been accepted for processing.  Given the volume of cases USCIS has to process, it is reasonable to expect that it will take at least several weeks to be fully completed/all packages or receipts to arrive at their destinations.

As previously announced by USCIS, it will begin the premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 11, 2015. Employers and attorneys will still have to wait for some time before knowing if any particular case has been selected for processing.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will also not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2016 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.