U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Friday that it received a sufficient number of petitions this week to reach the 65,000 H-1B visa general cap for the 2020 fiscal year. The agency said it will next determine whether it has also received sufficient petitions to reach the 20,000 cap on H-1B visas for individuals holding advanced degrees from U.S. institutions.

The filing period for cap-subject H-1B petitions opened Monday. 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 seventh consecutive year in which the general cap was reached within the first week of filing.

USCIS will now conduct a lottery to select petitions that will be adjudicated. This year, the agency will reverse the order of the general and advanced degree lotteries to give advanced degree holders better odds of being selected for adjudication.

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 first day of the 2020 fiscal year.

The agency will continue to accept H-1B petitions that are not subject to the annual 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 65,000 cap within the first week of filing. Employers are reminded that USCIS will not begin offering premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions until May 20, and the service will only be available for cap-subject “change-of-status” petitions until June 2019 or later. BAL will continue to update clients on the H-1B selection process, including on any information from USCIS on the master’s cap.

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

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