Washington, DC – US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today (March 15) that it will begin accepting H-1B Visa petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 cap on Monday, April 1, 2013. “Cases will be considered accepted on the date that USCIS receives a properly filed petition for which the correct fee has been submitted; not the date that the petition is postmarked,” the announcement said.
The cap (the numerical limitation on H-1B petitions) for FY 2014 is 65,000. In addition, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the fiscal year cap of 65,000.
Due to increased interest, USCIS noted that between April 1 and April 5, 2013, it was anticipating to receive more petitions than allowed by the cap and hence will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public of the date on which the numerical limit of the H-1B cap is met.
The date on which the numerical cap is met is known as the final receipt date, and according to the announcement, if more petitions are received than it can accept, USCIS will use a lottery system to randomly select petitions until the numerical limit is reached.
“USCIS will reject petitions that are subject to the cap and are not selected, as well as petitions received after it has the necessary number of petitions needed to meet the cap,” USCIS said, noting that the lottery system for the H-1B cap was last used in April 2008.
In addition, H-1B cap cases can continue to request concurrent premium processing. Based on past premium processing receipt levels, combined with the possibility that the H-1B cap would be met in the first 5 business days of the filing season, USCIS said it was temporarily adjusting its current premium processing practice. To facilitate the prioritized data entry of cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases on April 15, 2013.
US businesses use the H-1B Visa program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, including scientists, engineers, and computer programmers.
USCIS cautioned H-1B petitioners to follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions in order to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence.