As expected, the USCIS announced on Friday, that it had reached the cap for new H-1b cases during the first five days of April and a lottery will be held. If last year is any indication, we should start to receive receipts for those lucky few within the next 2 weeks. More updates will be provided as they become available.
The USCIS has announced that it has completed the data entry of all H-1b cap lottery cases and that rejected cases will begin to be returned next week. Receipts are expected to continue to trickle in over the next week. The USCIS did not provide an estimate for when all receipts or rejected cases would be sent out but, we expect it to be another 4- 6 weeks.
Happy April 1st, the day where hope of a coveted H-1b visa still feels in reach. Due to April 1st falling on a Saturday, the H-1b cap period this year begins on Monday April 3rd and all cases received between Monday and Friday April 7th, will be included in the lottery. Information about the cap being reached, the lottery being conducted and the commencement of receipts being mailed out can all be found on this very helpful USCIS page. I hope you all get a receipt !
H-1b cap lottery filings are less than three (3) months away ! HLG will be hosting a conference call on Thurs. Feb 2nd for clients to discuss issues and strategies relating to this year’s lottery filings. Register at the HLG web-site. The call is free. Note there are two calls scheduled, one for healthcare cos. and the second for everyone else.
Today, April 1st, marks the first day that H-1b cap petitions can be filed seeking a new H-1b visa from the FY 2017 quota. The quota is set at 85,000 total with 20,000 being set-aside for persons with US masters degrees or higher. All H-1b petitions must be filed by a US employer and the pay offered must meet the prevailing wage established by the DOL. All individuals who have filings done for them must have at least a bachelor’s level education. The majority of filings are for STEM positions. As a result of demand exceeding supply, the USCIS has created a lottery system and all filings received in the first 5 business days of April will be included in a random drawing for the coveted visas. The lottery is typically held the 3rd week of April and those petitions lucky enough to be chosen are then processed. Those cases not selected in the lottery are returned to the employers who filed them. Last year, over 220,000 petitions were submitted. Many are expecting over 250,000 this year. The fact that the US immigration policy allows for the selection of highly skilled workers, most filling STEM related, hard to fill positions, by random chance is absurd. Unfortunately, the anti-immigration far right led by Grassley, Cruz, and Sessions have thwarted any attempts to reform the legal immigration system into a system that does a better job of selecting international workers while still protecting US jobs. It is as if they actually are in favor of the status quo i.e. dysfunction as it gives them something to beat their chest about. The rhetoric coming from the Presidential race indicates that we will be left with the lottery for some time.
On Feb 2nd HLG will host a free conference call to discuss H-1b cap lottery filings. More info. and sign-up details can be found here.
Check out this recent article in the New York Times regarding the H-1b visa program.
As H-1b cap rejections arrived in our office en masse last week and this week, it was quite a sobering sight. Selfishly, for our firm because those rejected boxes represented literally 100’s of cases that would never be fully billed, never turn into green card cases, and never refer their friends. For the U.S. companies that had interviewed the candidates and selected them as being the best person for the job, they were losing out on a talented new employee. For the H-1b worker, many were losing out on the dream of working in the U.S., joining friends or family that may have immigrated here previously, or simply not realizing the adventure of a new career in a new country. To the U.S. in general, the rejections of some 150,000 plus professional workers, many with STEM degrees, the economic loss is staggering. CNBC ran a nice article about a month ago on the economic loss caused by a broken US immigration system. If you haven’t read it, check it out. Regardless of one’s perspective, rejected petitions represent a loss.
The USCIS today announced that it had received approx. 233,000 H-1b cap subject petitions to be included in the lottery for 85,000 visas. They further announced that the lottery had been completed. They did not indicate when receipts would be issued but, did remind everyone that they expected to begin processing premium process filed cases by May 11th. Whether this the volume of cases filed will spur Congress to act on legal immigration is unknown but, I’m not holding my breath.
In a surprise to absolutely no one, the USCIS today announced that it had received petitions in excess of the 20,000 H-1b U.S. Masters cap and the 65,000 regular H-1b cap and a lottery would be held. They did not disclose the total number of petitions received and they did not disclose when the lottery would be held. Receipts will not be issued until after the lottery is held. We will provide further updates as they become available.