On April 1, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2017 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.
We predict that H-1B petitioners nationwide will file in excess of 200,000 petitions during the H-1B cap 5-day application window of April 1-7, 2016. Last year’s record filing total of 233,000 will very likely be exceeded. This estimate is based on conversations with clients, other employment-based immigration attorneys, and economic trends such as the very low unemployment rate in the IT field.
The Congressionally mandated cap is set at 65,000 visas and, generally, those with a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent who are offered a related, professional-level position, will qualify. Moreover, an additional 20,000 visas are set aside for those with a U.S. Master’s degree. Once the Master’s cap is reached, eligible petitions for this cap are routed to the general Bachelor’s (or non-advanced degree cap). An additional 6800 visas are also set aside for H-1B1 applicants from Singapore and Chile. These are deducted from the annual cap.
USCIS 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 computer-generated 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. Last year, the USCIS held an H-1B lottery because it received more than three times as many H-1B petitions as slots available.
If you are considering filing an H-1B cap-subject petition, PPID urges you to begin the process immediately.
International workers who are already working in the U.S. on an H-1B visa with another cap-subject employer are not subject to this year’s H-1B cap. These cases are commonly referred to as “H-1B transfer” cases and may be filed at any time throughout the year. H-1B visa extensions are also cap-exempt.
Employees that need or are considered to be “cap-subject” H-1B applicants include:
- International students working on an EAD card under an OPT or CPT program after having attended a U.S. school
- International employees working on a TN or H1B1 visa should file for an H-1B if they intend to pursue a permanent residency (green card) case
- Prospective international employees in another visa status: e.g. H-4, L-2, J1, F-1, E-1, E-2
- H-1B workers currently working with a cap exempt organization
- Prospective international employees currently living abroad
Recent years H-1B Demand:
|Year:||H-1B Cap Numbers:||Date H-1B Cap Reached:|
|H-1B 2003 (FY 2004)||65,000||October 1, 2003|
|H-1B 2004 (FY 2005)||65,000||October 1, 2004|
|H-1B 2005 (FY 2006)||85,000||August 10, 2005|
|H-1B 2006 (FY 2007)||85,000||May 26, 2006|
|H-1B 2007 (FY 2008)||85,000||April 1, 2007|
|H-1B 2008 (FY 2009)||85,000||April 1, 2008|
|H-1B 2009 (FY 2010)||85,000||December 21, 2009|
|H-1B 2010 (FY 2011)||85,000||January 25, 2011|
|H-1B 2011 (FY 2012)||85,000||November 22, 2011|
|H-1B 2012 (FY 2013)||85,000||June 11, 2012|
|H-1B 2013 (FY 2014)||85,000||April 1, 2013|
|H-1B 2014 (FY 2015)||85,000||April 1, 2014|
|H-1B 2015 (FY 2016)||85,000||April 1, 2015|
|H-1B 2016 (FY 2017)||85,000||April 1, 2016(expected)|
If you have any questions about the H-1B Cap system, the H-1B lottery, or the H-1B petition process in general, the experienced immigration attorneys at Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP can help you navigate this complicated process.