• USCIS Receives More Than 236,000 FY 2017 H-1B Cap Cases, Runs Selection Lotteries
  • May 23, 2016
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • More than 236,000 FY 2017 H-1B cap petitions were submitted to USCIS between April 1 and April 7, 2016 - a new record, though an increase of just 3,000 filings, or 1.3 percent, over last year’s total.

    On April 9, the agency ran 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 216,000 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 likely to have exceeded the approximately 50,000 filed last year.

    This year, standard cap filings have roughly a 30 percent chance of selection in the lottery. 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 2017 cap is approximately 36 percent.

    What’s Next: Filing Receipts and Adjudication

    USCIS has already begun to issue email receipts for premium processed cases that were chosen in the lottery. Premium receipting is expected to continue for at least several more days. Receipts for non-premium cases should begin in the coming weeks, and continue for several weeks thereafter.

    Adjudication of premium cases will begin no later than May 16, USCIS has reconfirmed. By May 31, employers who requested premium service should see a petition approval or a request for additional evidence (RFE) in cases selected for processing. Adjudication of non-premium cases will begin later 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 how many of their cases were selected in the lottery until USCIS completes receipting, which could take weeks for non-premium filings. Cases that were not chosen in the lotteries will be rejected and returned with their filing fees. The return process typically begins in mid-June.