Ivener & Fullmer LLP

USCIS Reaches FY 2017 H-1B Cap


As expected, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has quickly reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. 

On April 9, 2016, USCIS completed the computer-generated process (“lottery”) to randomly select the petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS said it first randomly selected petitions for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general cap. The agency is rejecting and returning filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings. USCIS said it will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases by May 16, 2016. 

Before running the lottery, USCIS completed initial intake for all filings received during the filing period, which ended April 7, 2016. USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. The number of petitions received this year reportedly topped last year’s record by at least 3,000 and 2014’s total by 63,500. 

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, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the 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. 

USCIS encourages H-1B applicants to subscribe to the H-1B Cap Season email updates located on the H-1B Fiscal Year 2017 Cap season Web page.

Related USCIS announcements are here and here.

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