On March 16, 2016 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) formally announced the open acceptance period for H-1B petitions under the Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2017 cap. The period, commonly referred to as Cap Season, will begin on April 1st, 2016. The H-1B program is employed by U.S. businesses seeking to engage foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programing.
USCIS is expecting over 65,000 petitions in the first five business days alone – more than the congressionally set FY2017 cap of 65,000. 20,000 of which are set aside for individuals possessing a U.S. master’s degree or higher and are exempt from the 65,000 cap. Due to the increased likelihood that the number of petitions filed will exceed the cap, USCIS will implement a computer generated lottery system to ensure fairness. USCIS will reject all unselected petitions and petitions received after the cap has closed. Additionally, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions via Premium Processing, but has created an estimated processing date beginning May 16, 2016. As always, cases will be deemed accepted on the date in which a full application is receive, including proper filing fees.
If your business is interested in pursuing an H-1B visa for a highly skilled foreign national, please contact our office for a comprehensive evaluation.