New H-1B Petitions Subject to the Annual Cap Must Be Filed within First Five Business Days of April 2016
On April 1, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will begin accepting cap-subject H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2017. Cap-subject H-1B petitions received by USCIS before April 1, 2016 will be rejected. Based on the demand for H-1Bs over the last three years (as indicated in chart below), petitions that are received by the USCIS after April 7, 2016, will also, very likely, be rejected. Petitions received during the first five business days of April, from April 1st to April 7th, will likely be subject to the USCIS’ random selection process, also known as the “cap lottery.” In order to ensure that we are able to file your H-1B petitions during this short five-day filing “season,” and ensure each petition's chance in the lottery, we request that you complete the H-1B employer and employee questionnaires, and provide all required information as soon as possible, and no later than March 1st, 2016.
Under the congressionally mandated quota, no more than 65,000 cap-subject H-1B visa petitions may be approved each fiscal year. A separate allotment of 20,000 H-1B visa numbers are available to foreign nationals who hold a master's or other advanced degree from a U.S. institution of higher education
As indicated in the graph and chart below, demand for H-1B visas has steadily increased over the last few years. During the last three filing seasons, increased demand has resulted in the quota being reached within the first five business days of April. Meanwhile, the overall odds of a cap-subject H-1B petition being accepted in the cap lottery have decreased sharply. The odds of a petition being accepted in the Master’s cap lottery last year (FY2016) were approximately 65%, while the odds of a petition being selected in the regular cap lottery were approximately 30%.