• The FY 2016 H-1B Cap Has Been Reached
  • April 14, 2015
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • USCIS has announced that the annual limit for Fiscal Year 2016 H-1B employment has been met. Since April 1, employers have submitted more than enough petitions to meet the quota of 65,000 standard H-1B cap numbers and the cap exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees. USCIS has not yet disclosed the exact number of cap petitions received, but it is likely to exceed the record 172,500 petitions submitted last year.

    USCIS will continue to accept filings today, but will reject any cap-subject cases received April 8 or later. Employers will not be able to file any further H-1B cap petitions until April 1, 2016. The agency will continue to accept petitions that are not subject to the cap, including extensions, changes of employer, amendments, concurrent employment for existing H-1B workers, and petitions filed by organizations that by law are exempt from the cap.

    What’s Next: The Cap Lotteries

    In the coming days, USCIS will run two lotteries to choose the FY 2016 cases that will be processed to completion, but because of the high volume of submissions, the agency has not yet determined the exact date it will do so.

    The first lottery will select enough cases to meet the advanced-degree cap exemption of 20,000. The second lottery will draw from all remaining cases, including those not selected in the advanced-degree lottery, to select enough filings to fill the standard quota of 65,000.

    Receipting and Adjudication

    After USCIS runs the cap lotteries, it will begin to issue receipts to employers whose cases are chosen. Premium processed cases will be receipted first, via email. Thereafter, USCIS will begin to issue mailed receipts for non-premium cases. Cases not selected in the lottery will be returned to petitioners with their filing fees, but returns are not likely to be sent until sometime in June.

    USCIS expects to begin adjudicating premium processed cases no later than May 11. An earlier start is possible, but in past years, the agency has generally met its projected start date for premium service. Adjudication of non-premium cases is expected to begin soon after the 15-day premium processing period ends on May 26.

    What This Means for Employers

    Employers and foreign nationals should be prepared to wait up to several weeks to learn whether their petitions were accepted in the H-1B cap lotteries, depending on whether cases were submitted for regular or premium processing. If any of your organization’s cap filings are not chosen, your Fragomen team can assist in identifying alternatives for affected employees.