199,000 H-1B Petitions Filed in FY2018 H-1B Cap Lottery

On April 17, 2017, the United States Citizenship Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it had received 199,000 H-1B petitions subject to the numerical limitation (“H-1B cap”) for Fiscal Year 2018. For the fifth year in a row, the cap was reached during the first week of the H-1B cap filing season (the first week of April). The total number of cap-petitions filed this year is down significantly compared to prior years, however — by about 15% compared to FY2017 and FY2016. The reduced demand should slightly improve the overall odds of petitions being selected in this year’s lottery.

Demand for H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions (FY2011 to FY2018)

As required by regulation, on April 11, 2017, the USCIS conducted the computer-generated “H-1B lottery” to randomly select petitions for processing pursuant to the annual H-1B cap: 20,000 H-1Bs under the advanced degree exemption and 65,000 H-1Bs under the general category. USCIS conducted the lottery for the advanced degree exemption first; unselected petitions in this category were then added to the selection process for the general lottery. The USCIS has not provided information on how many of the 199,000 H-1B petitions were submitted under the advanced degree exception. USCIS began issuing receipt notices for H-1B cap petitions that were selected in the lottery last week. We will not know for certain whether a petition has been selected in the lottery until we receive either a receipt notice or the returned petition. This process will take several weeks. We will notify our clients immediately in either case. As a reminder, employers may continue to file H-1B petitions for individuals who are cap-exempt. Foreign nationals who have previously been counted against the cap are generally not subject to this year’s cap, unless they have already reached the six-year limit in H-1B status and are ineligible for an extension beyond this limit under sections 104(c) or 106(a) of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (“AC21”). Additionally, petitions filed for foreign nationals who will be employed by institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations, or governmental research organizations are generally not subject to the cap. Please contact our office if you are unsure whether a particular candidate is subject to the cap.

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