FY2017 H-1B Cap Expected to be Rapidly Reached

FY2017 H-1B Cap Expected to be Rapidly Reached

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions on Friday, April 1st, for the new fiscal year that starts on October 1, 2016. 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 accepance 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 FY2017 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 200,000 H-1B petitions toward the FY2016 cap during the initial filing period (including those for advanced degrees). For FY2015, USCIS received over 172,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period. As a result, the H-1B cap has been met the past 3 years during the initial acceptance period, causing USCIS to conduct a lottery.

If you or your clients intend to file an H-1B petition for a cap-subject H-1B employee or if you or your clients have questions about a prospective hire, it is very important that you take steps to initiate this process as soon as possible, as there are many preliminary steps that must be completed before a petition can be filed with USCIS.

Categories: Immigration Blog