• USCIS Receives 233,000 FY 2016 H-1B Cap Cases, Runs Selection Lotteries
  • April 27, 2015
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • USCIS today announced that it received approximately 233,000 FY 2016 H-1B cap petitions between April 1 and April 7, 2015 - approximately 35 percent more petitions than were received during the FY 2015 filing period.

    The agency has run two lotteries to choose the cases that will be processed to completion. The first lottery selected enough cases to meet the cap exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees. The second lottery chose from the roughly 213,000 remaining cases, including those not selected in the advanced-degree lottery, to draw enough filings to fill the standard quota of 65,000. The number of advanced-degree cases filed with USCIS is not yet known, but is certain to have exceeded the approximately 43,000 advanced-degree cases filed last year.

    This year, standard cap filings have a 30 percent chance of selection in the lottery - a significant drop from last year, when some 42 percent were chosen. The odds for advanced-degree cases are somewhat higher, because these filings get a second chance for selection if they are not chosen in the initial lottery, but will not be known with certainty until USCIS discloses the number of advanced-degree cases that were submitted. The overall chance of selection in the FY 2016 cap is approximately 36 percent.

    What’s Next: Filing Receipts and Adjudication

    Now that the selection lotteries are finished, USCIS will begin to issue filing receipts to employers whose petitions were chosen. Premium processing receipts will come first by email, and could begin in as soon as a few days. Receipts for non-premium cases should begin in the coming weeks, with receipting continuing for several weeks thereafter.

    Adjudication of premium cases will begin no later than May 11, USCIS has reconfirmed. By May 26, employers who requested premium service should see a petition approval or a request for additional evidence (RFE). Adjudication of non-premium cases will begin after May 26 and is likely to continue through mid-August; USCIS could issue RFEs for these cases at any point during this period.

    What This Means for Employers

    Employers will not know which of their cases were selected in the lottery until USCIS completes initial case data entry and issues filing receipts, which could take weeks for non-premium cases. Cases that were not chosen in the lotteries will be rejected and returned with their filing fees; returns are likely to occur by mid-June.

    Once receipting is completed, contact your Fragomen team for assistance in identifying alternatives for foreign nationals whose H-1B petitions were not selected in the cap lotteries.