As you likely know, April 1st was the first day when cap-subject H-1B petitions could be accepted for Fiscal Year 2017. Now that the filings have started, here is a quick summary of some key information provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS or Immigration Services) in a March 16, 2016 release captioned, “USCIS Will Accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2017 Beginning April 1, 2016”:
- The congressionally mandated H-1B cap remains at 65,000 for FY 2017 along with the cap exemption for the first 20,000 petitions received for those with a U.S. master’s degree or higher (the latter being commonly referred to as the “Master’s Cap”).
- It is again expected that USCIS will receive more than 65,000 petitions during the first 5 business days of April 2016.
- USCIS will monitor the number of petitions received and let public know when the H-1B cap has been reached.
- The H-1B Lottery system (computer-generated lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions required to meet the cap) will again be used if as expected, during the first 5 business days of April, USCIS receives more cap-subject H-1B petitions than there are numbers available.
- If your petition isn’t selected in the Lottery or is received after the cap is closed, USCIS will reject it.
- An H-1B petition is “accepted” only on the date when USCIS receives a properly filed petition with the appropriate fees.
- Premium (15-day) Processing of cap-subject H-1B petitions is expected to be delayed, but begin no later than May 16, 2016. This is to allow personnel time to enter data on the massive number of petitions that are expected during the first 5 business days of April.
- USCIS provided special instruction for employers whose H-1B workers will work in different locations as follows: “H-1B petitioners are reminded that when the temporary employment or training will be in different locations, the state where your company or organization’s primary office is located will determine where you should send your Form I-129 package, regardless of where in the United States the various worksites are located. Please ensure that when temporary employment or training will be in different locations, the address on page 1, part 1 of Form I-129 is for your organization’s primary office. Please note that when listing a “home office” as a work site location on Part 5, question 3, USCIS will consider this a separate and distinct work site location.”
Let the data entry begin…
Catherine Wadhwani is a Partner in Fox Rothschild LLP’s Immigration Practice Group. Catherine is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Catherine at (412) 394-5540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.