Employers seeking to hire foreign professionals may be out of luck this year. On April 5, 2013, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the statutory cap on H-1B petitions for FY 2014 has been reached, just five days after the application process opened. Any employer who did not submit an H-1B petition on behalf of a professional foreign worker on or before April 5 will likely not get another chance to petition for that employee until next year. USCIS announced Monday that it used a random lottery system to select petitions from among the 124,000 submitted for processing. As the statutory caps are 65,000 for standard petitions and 20,000 for professionals who hold a U.S. Master’s Degree, the numbers indicate that approximately 1 out of 4 timely submitted petitions will be rejected.
The H-1B Process for FY 2014 Shows a Marked Increase in Petitions.
Each year on April 1, USCIS begins accepting H-1B petitions for visas that will become effective the following October. By regulation, when USCIS determines that it has received enough petitions to reach the cap, it stops accepting petitions as of the end of that day, which is known as the “final receipt day.” If the final receipt date falls within the first 5 days of filing, USCIS institutes the lottery. This year, USCIS had already received more than 85,000 petitions for 2014 H-1B visas at the time it made its announcement on April 5th – by the end of that final receipt day, submitted petitions numbered approximately 124,000. Two days later, on April 7, USCIS used a random selection process to determine which petitions would be accepted and which would not. Employers will soon receive notification of whether their petitions have been accepted for processing, or rejected and returned.
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