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What’s Next Now that USCIS Reaches FY 2017 H-1B Cap

Peter F. Asaad

As expected, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the 65,000 congressionally mandated H-1B cap (limit) for fiscal year (FY) 2017.  Also, USCIS has received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption.

What’s Next?

USCIS will use a computer-generated process, also known as the “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.  It truly is random.

USCIS will first randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general cap.

How do I know if I have been selected under the Cap?

USCIS will send either (1) a receipt notice (which thus indicates that you have been randomly selected under the cap) or (2) a rejection notice (government filing fees and the filed petition itself is returned thus indicating that you were not selected under the cap.

How long must I wait?

Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period, which ended April 7. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date it will conduct the random selection process.  Last year, receipt notices and rejection notices were received on a rolling basis through May and sometimes even into June.

Non-Cap Cases

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 congressionally mandated 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.