On April 7, 2105, USCIS announced that it reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year (FY) 2016. USCIS received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption, and more than the 65,000 “regular cap” limit for applicants without a Master’s Degree. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as engineering, science, and computer programming.
In the meantime, USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally mandated FY 2016 H-1B cap.
In addition, up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the 65,000 each fiscal year for the H-1B1 program under the terms of the legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore free trade agreements. However, any unused visas in this group become available for H-1B use for the next fiscal year.
Due to fierce competition, this means that for applicants who do not hold a Master’s degree and are not from Chile or Singapore, based on last year’s number of applications, there would be a 33% chance that their application will be selected for review based on the outcome of the lottery. Thereafter, applicants face further possibility of rejection if their applications are incomplete or do not meet the requirements.
Due to improvements in the U.S. economy, the number of applicants have sharply increased in the last two years. In 2013, for the first time since 2008, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the statutory H-1B cap of 65,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2014 within the first week of the filing period. That year, USCIS received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption.
Last year, USCIS received about 172,500 H-1B petitions during the filing period which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. For cap-subject petitions that were not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing.
The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All advanced degree petitions not selected then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.
Moving forward, USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
- Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
- Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
- Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
- Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
For applicants who did not meet the deadline, or whose applications were rejected during the lottery selection process, the next date to apply for the H-1B visa is April 1, 2016. However, other options may exist for applicants to remain and work legally in the US, such as the J-1 “paid internship” visa, the E-2 “entrepreneur” investor visa, the EB-5 investor visa (Green Card), the TN visa for NAFTA professionals from Mexico or Canada, or the L-1 transfer visa.
To find out if you qualify for the H-1B for April 2016, or to determine if you have other options to live and work legally in the United States, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys, call (323) 450-9010, or fill out a Contact Request Form.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute tax or legal advice.
The Grady Firm, P.C. is a one-stop business law firm that specializes in immigration law for business owners and their families. We help reunite families through Green Card and Fiancee visa applications; help employers sponsor their employees through the H-1B and L-1 transfer visas, and assist foreign entrepreneurs with living and working legally in the United States (E-2 and EB-5 visas). Our attorneys are fluent in multiple languages to assist our international clientele.