USCIS announced that it has stopped accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap or the advanced degree cap exemption.
On April 7, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the fiscal year 2016 65,000 H-1B cap or quota has been reached. The USCIS also announced that it has received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap, pursuant to the 20,000 US advanced degree exemption. Accordingly, the USCIS will not accept any more H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap or the advanced degree exemptions. The USCIS has not indicated how many cap-subject H-1B petitions it received, but the volume likely exceeds that of last year, when it received 172,500 cap-subject petitions.
The USCIS will use a computer-generated random selection process or lottery for all fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions received between April 1, 2015 and April 7, 2015. Advanced degree exemption petitions will undergo the random selection process first. Those not selected will be added to the general pool for which 65,000 visa numbers are available. Petitions not selected in the lottery will be returned with the filing fees uncashed.
The USCIS is conducting an initial intake of filings received through April 7. It has not yet announced the date on which the lottery will take place. Last year, the lottery was held on April 10.
Please note that H-1B1 visa numbers are still available for nationals of Chile and Singapore. In addition, H-1B petitions filed on behalf of foreign nationals who have previously held H-1B status within the last six years, including requests for an extension of stay and requests for a change of employer, are exempt from the cap. H-1B petitions filed on behalf of foreign nationals employed by institutions of higher education, related or affiliated nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations, and governmental research organizations are also exempt from the cap.
The USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions for its fiscal year 2017 on April 1, 2016 for employment that begins no earlier than October 1, 2016.
We will issue updates as additional information becomes available.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this Immigration Alert, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:
A. James Vázquez-Azpiri
Lisa Stephanian Burton