USCIS announced that the annual H-1B cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year 2017 has been met, along with the 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. It is said to have been the fourth year in a row in which the cap was reached within the first week. A total of over 236,000 H1B petitions were received during the filing period, which began on April 1 including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption.
On April 9, a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery was used to select enough petitions to reach the 65,000 general category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. Any unselected petitions will be rejected and returned along with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.
Petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap will continue to be accepted and processed, such as those filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have previously been counted against the cap.
In order to allow personnel enough time to enter the appropriate data for the massive number of petitions that have been received, the premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions is said to be delayed, but begin no later than May 16, 2016.
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 2017 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. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programming.
More information on the H-1B cap-subject petition can be found on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.