USCIS Reaches H-1B Visa Cap of 65,000 for Fiscal Year 2016

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has reached the statutory H-1B cap of 65,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2016 within the first week of the filing period for the third consecutive year. USCIS also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption.

H-1B Visa Cap Count for 2016

Congress has limited the number of new individuals that can enter the US in the H-1B category per year. This year, the H-1B visa allocation cap is limited to a total of 85,000 visas, which include:

  • 65,000 for the general category
  • 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption category

H-1B Visa Cap Lottery Process

USCIS will use a computer-generated lottery system to randomly select a sufficient number of petitions to meet the cap of 85,000. USCIS will first select 20,000 petitions for the advanced degree category, and the remaining unselected petitions will be added to the general category for a second lottery selection process that fulfills the 65,000 limit. USCIS will send a receipt to the selected petitions only and will return the case with filing fee to the unselected petitions, unless petitions are found to be duplicates.

Before running the lottery process, USCIS will complete an initial intake for all filings received during the filing period ending April 7. Because of the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date on which it will conduct the random selection process.

H-1B Cap Will Not Affect Certain New Petitions

Despite the cap being filled, USCIS will continue to accept and process H-1B petitions because the H-1B cap does not include or affect:

  • Petitions that are otherwise exempted from H-1B cap
  • Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap
  • Petitions filed to:
    • Extend the length of time of a current H-1B worker to stay in US
    • Change the terms of employment for the H-1B worker
    • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers
    • Allow current H-1B worker to work concurrently in a second H-1B position

For more information, H-1B applicants can visit the H-1B Fiscal Year 2016 Cap Season Web page.