H1B CAP REACHED FOR FISCAL YEAR 2014 – Highlights the Urgent Need for Immigration Reform

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 5, 2013 that it has received enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year 2014, both in the general category (65,000) and under the “advanced degree” exemption (20,000). Any cap-subject H-1B petitions received by USCIS after this date, April 5, 2013, will be rejected.

USCIS will now run a computer-generated random selection process or “lottery” of all H-1B petitions received during the April 1-5, 2013 filing period. The selection process for “advanced degree” exemption petitions will be done first, and all “advanced degree” petitions not selected as part of the initial quota will be part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general category. USCIS will begin adjudication of premium processing cases on or about April 15th.

USCIS will reject, and return filing fees for all cap-subject petitions not randomly selected.

In the past several years, the H-1B quota has not been exhausted until later in the fiscal year. This is the fastest the cap has been reached since 2008, before the economic crisis hit later that year. A lottery was also last held in 2008 to award H1B visas.

Lawmakers in Capitol Hill are currently working on comprehensive immigration reform legislation and changes to the H1B programme should be part of the eventual bill.

Absent a change in legislation, however, US employers will not be able to file for H1B status for employees until April 1, 2014 for a start date of October 1, 2014 (Fiscal Year 2015).

H-1B petitions are filed by U.S. employers seeking to hire a specific foreign national in a specialty occupation involving the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge (such as the sciences, medicine and health care, education, technology).