Yesterday, April 7, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption.Using a computer generated process or “lottery” USCIS will 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 will first randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions will then become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general cap. Petitions that are not selected will be returned, with filing fees.
Please note that USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap, i.e. persons employed by an institution of higher education, or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity; or those employed at a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization. In addition, 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.
To be sure, as in past years, there will be many highly skilled foreign workers who were not successful in the H-1B lottery. However, before giving up and going home, or to a third country, we urge these workers and their employers to contact immigration counsel to consider possible alternatives. Options exist that you may not have thought of, and until Congress acts to increase the artificially low number of H-1B cap visa available, it’s important to think creatively to capitalize on the talents of the world’s best and brightest.