U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Monday, April 7, 2014 that it had received enough H-1B petitions to meet the cap for fiscal year 2015 (which is the period October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015). Today, USCIS announced that it received approximately 172,500 H-1B petitions during the filing period April 1 – April 7, 2014, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 10, 2014, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as the “lottery”) to select a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption limit. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with the filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing.

USCIS conducted the selection process for advanced degree exemption petitions first. All advanced degree petitions not selected were part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

USCIS also announced previously that it will temporarily adjust its premium processing practice relating to the cap-subject cases. To facilitate the prioritized data entry of cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing, USCIS will not begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases until approximately April 15, 2014.

Receipt notices will be issued for those cases selected in the lottery. All other petitions will be returned to the petitioner or petitioner’s attorney.

We will inform clients as soon as we know whether any H-1B petitions filed are assigned one of the available numbers. In the meantime, it is important to remember that the cap only applies to new H-1B cases and not to extensions of H-1B status or a transfer of an H-1B visa from one employer to another. The cap does, however, affect those foreign nationals who are in H-1B status seeking to work for new employers but who are currently exempt from the H-1B cap based on employment with a university or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity or employment with a nonprofit or governmental research organization.

Employers should contact any of our immigration attorneys with questions or concerns about how these numbers might impact upon the hiring of foreign nationals. Although new cap-subject H-1B visas are no longer available until October 1, 2015, there may be alternative visa options for a particular candidate that we can assist you with.