U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today that the H-1B cap filing period has closed, as the number of petitions received has reached the congressionally mandated quotas for fiscal year 2019.

Petitions subject to the cap that are not selected or that are received after today will be returned with their filing fees. New H-1B visas are annually capped at 65,000 for undergraduate-degree holders with an additional 20,000 for individuals holding advanced degrees from U.S. institutions.

USCIS is required to accept H-1B cap petitions for at least five business days or until the quota is met—whichever is longer. This is the sixth consecutive year in which the H-1B cap has been reached in the first week of the filing period, triggering a random lottery process for selecting petitions that will be adjudicated. A lottery is expected to be conducted in the coming days after the agency completes initial intake of all filings.

Employers whose petitions are selected will receive receipt notices and, if approved, employees will be eligible to begin work in H-1B status beginning Oct. 1 of this year, the start of the 2019 fiscal year.

The agency will continue to accept H-1B petitions that are not subject to the quotas, as well as H-1B extension applications, changes to the terms of H-1B employment, requests to allow H-1B workers to change employers, and requests to allow H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

BAL Analysis: As anticipated, H-1B petitions exceeded the cap within the first week of filing. Employers are reminded that the agency has suspended premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions, which is expected to last until September, and receipt notices are likely to be delayed. BAL will continue to update clients as selection and processing progress.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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