USCIS has started to accept H-1B cap-subject petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 and is expected to remain open to such petitions until April 7, 2017, assuming the available numbers are exhausted in the initial filing period. If the H-1B filing quotas are exceeded during this initial filing period, USCIS will conduct a random lottery to determine which petitions will move forward to adjudication. Separately, USCIS’ temporary suspension of the Premium Processing Service for all H-1B petitions becomes effective April 3, 2017.
Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B cap-subject petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 (“FY2018”). USCIS will accept up to a maximum of 65,000 petitions under the H-1B general category for FY2018. Additionally, USCIS will accept up to a maximum of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the US advanced degree exemption. The H-1B cap filing window opened April 3, 2017, and will remain open for at least five business days, until April 7, 2017.
In the event that the H-1B quotas mentioned above are exceeded, USCIS will use a computer-generated selection process, or lottery, to randomly select the petitions which will be eligible for consideration. Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period of April 3, 2017, to April 7, 2017.
If a lottery is required, USCIS will first run the lottery for petitions filed under the US advanced degree category. All US advanced degree petitions that are not initially selected will become part of the random selection process for the general category. Ultimately, if an H-1B cap-subject petition is not selected through the lottery, USCIS will reject the petition, and will return the filing fees unless it is deemed a duplicate filing.
Separately, USCIS’ temporary suspension of the Premium Processing Service for all H-1B petitions, including non-cap subject petitions, becomes effective April 3, 2017. The length of the temporary suspension has not been formally announced, and as such, it is unclear when this option will re-open for H-1B petitions. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates as they are available. For more information on the temporary suspension of Premium Processing on H-1B petitions, please refer to our prior Alert on this topic.
Employers using the H-1B visa category should ensure that their petitions filed from April 3, 2017 onward do not use the Premium Processing Service, until further notice. Additionally, employers that have filed H-1B cap-subject petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 should stay tuned for further information from USCIS regarding the total number of petitions filed, and whether a lottery will be necessary to select petitions for adjudication.
For further details on the of H-1B visa category, or on any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team.