The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) announced yesterday it reached the H-1b cap for the Fiscal Year 2016. Essentially, similar to past years, USCIS received more H-1b applications than the available number of H-1b visas for the upcoming fiscal year. This happened in the 5 business days the USCIS began to accept H-1b applications.
Congress mandates 65,000 regular H-1b visas each year and an additional 20,000 H-1b visas for individuals with advance degrees (i.e. “master’s cap”).
USCIS now will place all the H-1b applications received from April 1, 2015 through April 7, 2015 in a random lottery to select the applications for continued processing. Actually, two lotteries take place. The first lottery relates to cased filed for the master’s cap. The second lottery includes those not selected for the master’s cap along with the regular cap H-1b applications. Applications not selected in the lottery are returned with uncashed filing fee checks to the petitioners of record.
Due to the nature of the H-1b cap being reached again, it is important to keep up-to-date on developments with a submitted application. Employees and employers will need to plan and determine how to proceed on these issues.