UPDATE: On April 12, 2016, USCIS announced that they received over 236,000 H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2017 H-1B cap. They also announced that on April 9, 2016, they completed the "random selection process" or lottery to determine which petitions would be considered for further processing under both the 20,000 master's degree slots and the 65,000 "regular" slots. USCIS will return all submitted petitions not selected for further processing.
As described in our original post below, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions that are exempt from the H-1B cap.
USCIS has announced that as of April 7, 2016, they have received enough petitions under both the “regular” cap and the “master’s degree” cap to reach the annual H-1B visa limit for fiscal year 2017. USCIS will now run two computer-generated lotteries: the first to determine which petitions are considered for the 20,000 master’s degree slots, and the second to determine which petitions are considered for the 65,000 “regular” slots. All petitions not selected in the master’s degree lottery will also be eligible for the “regular” lottery. The lottery dates have not been announced.
USCIS will reject petitions subject to the cap for H-1B workers seeking an employment start date between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017, that are received after April 7, 2016. No new cap subject H-1B petitions may be filed until April 1, 2017, for employment beginning no earlier than October 1, 2017. USCIS will continue to accept petitions for H-1B workers assigned to Department of Defense projects and petitions for Chilean and Singaporean H-1B1 workers.
It is important to note that the cap applies only to “new” H-1B petitions, i.e. petitions filed on behalf of workers who have never held H-1B status or who have spent one year or more outside the U.S. since last holding H-1B status. Exempt from the cap are extension petitions for workers currently in H-1B status, petitions for current H-1B holders seeking concurrent employment, petitions requesting a change of H-1B employer, and petitions amending a worker’s current H-1B status due to a material change in the terms and conditions of the employment.
In addition, some “new” petitions are exempt from the cap by virtue of the type of petitioner or the type of work being done. These are petitions filed on behalf of a worker who is or will be employed at an institution of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, and petitions filed on behalf of a worker who is or will be employed at a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization. Petitions for J-1 international medical graduates who have received waivers under the Conrad 30 program are also exempt from the cap.
We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as additional details emerge. Meanwhile, please contact us with any questions.
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