H-1B Visa Cap & Lottery Update

Employers who are seeking to sponsor workers on a new H-1B visa, beginning October 1, 2015, had to apply within five business days following the April 1, which is the first day that employers could apply for such visas.  As expected, the H-1B cap of 65,000 (Bachelor degree level) and 20,000 (U.S. masters degree level) was met and exceeded within this five day window.  As a result, the government has stopped accepting new applications for H-1B visas meaning employers will have to wait until next April 1 to apply for new H-1B visas. 

WHAT DO EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOW IF THEY APPLIED ON TIME FOR H-1B VISAS THIS SEASON

First, USCIS will be conducting a lottery.  This is an annual occurrence, so it is nothing new, but the process is tweaked annually slightly.  This year, all applications, upon receipt by the government, were assigned a lottery number.  Earlier this week the government ran the lottery and selected and rejected applications accordingly. Nearly 233,000 applications were filed, so the chances of being selected in the lottery are 2:1 to 4:1, depending whether the person has a Masters degree from a U.S. university.

Second, if an application is selected and wins the lottery USCIS will begin processing applications filed under the Premium Processing rules on April 27.  As a result, selected applications will be resolved (unless further evidence is requested by the government) within 15 days after April 27.  It has not been announced when non-Premium Processing petitions will begin processing. 

The government will continue to accept applications for H-1B extensions, changes of employers, and amended petitions for current H-1B holders. 

 
 
Thompson Coe’s Tips of the Week are not intended as a solicitation, do not constitute legal advice and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.