FY2016 H-1B Cap Expected to be Rapidly Reached

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions on Wednesday, April 1st, for the new fiscal year that starts on October 1, 2015. H-1B petitions are most frequently filed by employers for professional prospective employees, such as engineers and scientists.

It is expected that USCIS will again receive more petitions than the allowable H-1B cap during the initial acceptance period. If this occurs, USCIS will conduct a lottery to determine which H-1B petitions filed during the initial period will be accepted for processing.

The numerical limitation on H-1B petitions for FY2016 is 65,000 for the regular cap and 20,000 for the U.S. Master's degree or higher cap. Those foreign nationals who have previously held H-1B status within the past 6 years or are filing for an extension of their current H-1B status are not subject to the cap. Several other categories of H-1B applicants are also exempt from the quota, including those who are already in H-1B status and seeking a change of employer.

Last year, USCIS received over 172,000 H-1B petitions toward the FY2015 cap during the initial filing period (including those for advanced degrees). For FY2014, USCIS received 124,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period. As a result, the H-1B cap has been met the past 2 years during the initial acceptance period, causing USCIS to conduct a lottery.

For those interested in sponsoring a worker who is subject to the H-1B cap, it is very important to begin the process early, as there are many preliminary steps that must be completed before a petition can be filed with USCIS.