As expected, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B visa cap for the 2016 fiscal year (FY) just a week after applications for the visas opened. USCIS will now use a computer-generated process to randomly select the petitions needed to meet the 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption. The petitions for the advanced degree exemption will be selected first, with the unselected advanced degree petitions becoming part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general limit. The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings. Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period, which officially ended on 7th
April. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date it will conduct the random selection process. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally mandated FY 2016 H-1B cap. Therefore, USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
- Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
- Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
- Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
- Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming.