U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has officially announced that H-1B cap filing will open on April 1 and that premium processing will begin no later than May 16.

Employers may see delays in the issuance of receipt notices and may have to wait for adjudication of cap-subject petitions until late May for premium processing cases. Petitions that are filed with a request for premium processing are eligible for expedited 15-day processing from the time premium processing begins.

The agency confirmed that it expects to receive more than the statutory cap of 65,000 petitions during the first five business days of the filing period which starts April 1, and has said that it will notify the public when the cap has been reached. When the number of filed petitions exceeds the cap, a random lottery will select petitions. USCIS will reject all unselected petitions, as well as petitions received after the cap has closed. The numerical cap for the fiscal year is 65,000, with an additional 20,000 for individuals holding advanced degrees from U.S. academic institutions.

BAL Analysis: Employers are reminded that filing volume is expected to be extremely high again this year and should expect that their first decisions may not be received until late May. Employers will not know if a petition has been selected in the lottery until they receive a premium-processing or regular-processing receipt notice from USCIS. BAL will continue to provide updates as the H-1B cap season progresses.

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