190,098 H-1B Petitions Filed in FY2019 H-1B Cap Lottery

On April 11, 2018, the United States Citizenship Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it had received 190,098 H-1B petitions subject to the numerical limitation (“H-1B cap”) for Fiscal Year 2019. For the sixth year in a row, the cap was reached during the first week of the H-1B cap filing season (the first week of April). However, the total number of cap-petitions filed this year continued to decrease compared to previous years — by about 4.5% compared to FY2018 and about 19.5% compared to FY2017 and FY2016. The decline in demand effectively improves the overall odds of a petition being selected in this year’s lottery.

Demand for H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions (FY2011 to FY2019)

As required by regulation, on April 11, 2018, 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 190,098 H-1B petitions were submitted under the advanced degree exception. USCIS should begin issuing receipt notices for H-1B cap petitions that were selected in the lottery within the next few weeks. 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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