United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the cap for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. Based on the volume received as of today, USCIS has determined sufficient petitions have been filed to meet both the 65,000 statutory cap for the general category, as well as the 20,000 limit for those petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. USCIS will not accept FY 2015 H-1B petitions filed under the quota after today, April 7th.
This is the second consecutive year that the H-1B quota has been reached during the first five business days of April. Before that, the last time the cap had been reached during the first week was in April 2008 for FY 2009. The decreased demand after FY 2009 was due to the effects of the financial crises.
As in prior years, USCIS will use a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as the lottery) for all properly filed FY 2015 H-1B petitions received between April 1, 2014 and April 7, 2014. USCIS will first conduct a lottery for those petitions filed in the advanced degree exempt category. All those not selected will then be part of the general lottery for the remaining 65,000 H-1Bs. The petitions that are not selected in the lottery process will be rejected and their filing fees returned, unless there is found to be duplicate filing.
Due to the high number of petitions received, USCIS advised that it is unable to yet confirm the exact number of petitions received or when it will conduct the lottery. However, USCIS has provided some indication with regard to timing. Last week, USCIS announced that it will begin premium processing of FY 2015 H-1B petitions no later than April 28.
We appreciate that during this period that employers and foreign national employees will be anxious while awaiting the lottery results. Proskauer will continue to update its clients directly and through alerts as to H-1B cap developments.