USCIS: H-1B petitions approached 233,000, lottery completed

13 Apr 15


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received nearly 233,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions during this year’s filing period, the agency said in a statement Monday. USCIS also confirmed that it has completed the lottery selection.

Petitions that were not selected will be returned with their filing fees. Premium processing for H-1B cap petitions will begin no later than May 11, USCIS said.

USCIS received about 60,500 more petitions than it did last year, and about 148,000 more than the cap placed on the number of H-1B visas that can be issued per year. The annual quotas for H-1B visas are 65,000 for undergraduate-degree holders and an additional 20,000 for foreign nationals with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. university.

The computer-generated selection process, or lottery, was completed Monday, USCIS said.

The lottery took place in two phases: First, 20,000 petitions were drawn from those holding master’s degrees or higher; then 65,000 petitions were drawn from a pool consisting of those not selected from the first draw plus undergraduate-degree holders.

On April 7, USCIS announced that the number of petitions it had received exceeded the congressionally mandated caps. This year marked the third straight year that H-1B cap-subject visas were reached within the first week of filing.

USCIS continues to accept and process petitions that are not subject to the cap, including petitions to extend the time an H-1B holder can stay in the country, to change the terms of an H-1B visa holders employment, and to allow an H-1B holder to work concurrently in another H-1B position.

BAL Analysis: It was widely expected that the number of H-1B filings would greatly exceed the actual availability of H-1B visa numbers. With a 30 percent likelihood of winning an H-1B visa number, companies will be forced to consider alternative visa options or overseas assignments for high-skilled employees. Please consult with a BAL professional for advice regarding alternatives to the H-1B visa category and other strategic options to fulfill workforce needs.

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