The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
(USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions for the 2016 fiscal year on 1st
April 2015. The H-1B programme is used by US businesses to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialised knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming. The congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for FY 2016 is 65,000. However, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a US Master’s degree or higher equivalent qualification are exempt from the 65,000 cap. Anyone hoping to receive a visa through this programme, though, will have to be quick. As ever, USCIS is preparing to receive far more petitions than the H-1B cap allows for during the first five business days of this year’s programme. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met. If USCIS receives an excess of petitions during the first five business days, the agency will use a lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions required to meet the cap. USCIS will reject all unselected petitions that are subject to the cap as well as any petitions received after the cap has closed. The lottery was used for the FY 2015 programme last April.