According to a USCIS News Alert: “Starting May 26, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B Extension of Stay petitions until July 27, 2015. During this time frame, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of the stay for an H-1B nonimmigrant. USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B Extension of Stay petitions filed with Form I-907 premium requests prior to May 26, 2015.”
According to a USCIS News Release: “USCIS announced May 4, 2015, that it has completed data entry of all fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in our computer-generated random process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, the time frame for returning these petitions is uncertain. USCIS asks petitioners to not inquire about the status of submitted cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the petitions have been returned.”
Today our office received the first receipt notices for cap-subject H-1B petitions that were filed. A receipt notice means that a petition was accepted for adjudication. Hopefully more are on the way.
Unlike high school seniors waiting for college acceptance materials, where they assume a big package is good news and contains enrollment materials and a single letter signifies a rejection notice, in the case of H-1Bs the reverse is true. In the coming weeks employers and attorneys will be receiving the dreaded large envelopes from the USCIS for those cases that did not win the lottery.
According to a USCIS News Release: “USCIS received nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 13, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.”
According to a USCIS News Release: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year (FY) 2016. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption.”
For the past few years, our office has seen an uptick in employer demand for H-1B skilled worker petitions. In fact, this year we filed more H-1B cap-subject petitions than any other since we started our firm fifteen years ago. We are hearing similar stories from our colleagues. It is therefore likely that the cap will be exhausted tomorrow. The regulations require that the USCIS accept petitions for the first week and if the cap has been exceeded, it will conduct a random lottery to determine which cases will be adjudicated. A few facts of interest:
1. There are 65,000 cap-subject H-1Bs available for the fiscal year plus an additional 20,000 for those who have US Master degrees (Master Cap);
2. If the number of H-1B petitions and Master Cap petitions received exceeds the cap, then the government will first exhaust the 65,000 and include all eligible petitions and then conduct a lottery for the 20,000 Master Cap. If a Master Cap petition is not selected in the general lottery, it will be entered into the separate Master Cap lottery.
3. Premium Processing for cap-subject H-1Bs may not begin until May 11, 2015, therefore the 15 day clock would start on that date.
4. Having filed an H-1B petition using the Premium Processing Service does not increase the odds of the case being selected in the lottery.
5. For cases that are accepted, the USCIS will process the filing fee check(s) and stamp the receipt number on the back of the check. Therefore lawyers or employers who paid by the filing fees by check can check their bank statements online to know whether petitions have been accepted. A USCIS Receipt Notice will of course follow in the mail.
6. For cases that are rejected, the entire petition and supporting documents, along with the filing fee checks will be returned.
As I write every year, it seems counter-intuitive that our country resorts to a lottery where we end up asking the best and brightest skilled workers from around the world to either return to or remain in their home countries. This includes talented scientists, architects, software engineers and others who could contribute so much to their employers and to the country as a whole.
According to a USCIS News Release: “On April 1, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2016 cap. 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.
The congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for FY 2016 is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.
USCIS expects to receive more petitions than the H-1B cap during the first five business days of this year’s program. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met. If USCIS receives an excess of petitions during the first five business days, the agency will use a lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions required to meet the cap. USCIS will reject all unselected petitions that are subject to the cap as well as any petitions received after the cap has closed. USCIS used the lottery for the FY 2015 program last April.”