New H-1B Petitions Subject to the Annual Cap Must Be Filed within First Five Business Days of April 2017
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) begins accepting cap-subject H-1B petitions on April 1st yearly. For fiscal year 2018 ("FY2018"), because April 1st falls on a Saturday, the cap filing period will begin on Monday, April 3rd. We expect demand for new H-1Bs this cap season to be as high or higher than previous years. Petitions received during the first five business days of April, from April 3rd to April 7th, will likely be subject to the USCIS’ random selection process, also known as the “cap lottery.” Petitions received after April 7th will very likely be rejected. In order to ensure that we are able to file your H-1B petitions during this short five-day filing “season,” and maximize each petition's chance in the lottery, we request that you complete the H-1B employer questionnaires, and provide all required information as soon as possible, and no later than March 1st, 2017.
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 (FY2017) were approximately 65%, while the odds of a petition being selected in the regular cap lottery were approximately 30%.
* Please note that in most cases, foreign nationals who have previously been counted against the H-1B cap are not subject to the annual quota. Foreign nationals employed by institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations, or governmental research organizations are also not subject to the cap. Please contact our office should you have questions as to whether a particular candidate is subject to the H-1B cap.
How This Affects You
We are reaching out to all of our clients to review the immigration status of foreign national employees, and to help determine whether filing an H-1B cap petition for FY2018 would be advisable. As we may not have records for all of your foreign national workers or job candidates, we ask that you help us identify persons for whom sponsorship should be considered.
In addition to current employees, you may be considering new candidates who require H-1B sponsorship. We may have already contacted you about filing H-1B cap petitions for existing employees or candidates that have been identified to us. Filing a cap-subject H-1B petition may be advisable for the following, depending on the person's specific situation:
Candidates abroad who have never held H-1B status
Candidates in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status who have never held H-1B status
Candidates or employees in F-1 status
Current employees in TN, E-3, H-1B1, O-1, and L-1 multinational transferee statuses whom the company will sponsor for permanent residency
Please contact our office as soon possible if you have employees for whom you would like to file an H-1B petition this cap season, or if you would like to further discuss whether sponsorship is advisable for a particular employee or candidate.