The number of H-1B petitions filed in the first week of filing hit 172,500, according to an announcement today by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This year’s filings were about 48,000 more than last year, and more than double the number of H-1B visas allowed by law. USCIS also said that today it completed the random selection process, or “lottery,” triggered when the number of petitions exceeds the annual numerical quotas in the first week of filing. This began April 1. The annual limits are 65,000 for undergraduate-degree holders and 20,000 for petitioners holding a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. university. The lottery for advanced-degree holders was conducted first, and those who were not selected were put into the second lottery for undergraduate-degree holders. USCIS will begin issuing rejections and returning filing fees for all H-1B cap-subject petitions not selected in the general lottery. On Monday, USCIS stopped accepting H-1B cap-subject petitions after announcing that the 65,000 and 20,000 ceilings were reached in the first week.

BAL Analysis: The record number of filed petitions without an increase in the annual caps means the odds of selection in the lottery are significantly lower than last year, which saw 124,500 petitions. This year, petitioners in the general lottery have a less than 50 percent chance of being selected, as predicted by BAL partner Lynden Melmed in an op-ed article on April 1.

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