Member News

USCIS Will Begin Accepting Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2017 on April 1, 2016

The filing period for new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (or H-1B cap) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 will begin on Friday, April 1, 2016. Cap-subject H-1B petitions will have an employment start date of October 1, 2016 or later.

In preparation for the opening of the FY 2017 H-1B filing period, employers are strongly encouraged to begin identifying current and future employees who will need H-1B visa status to be legally employed in the United States. Individuals currently holding F-1 student or J-1 trainee visas, individuals seeking to change to H-1B status from another visa status (such as L-1, TN, O-1, or E-3), and individuals outside of the United States commonly require a cap-subject H-1B petition to be filed on their behalf.

Overview of the H-1B Visa Program and Annual Numerical Limitation

The H-1B visa program permits employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, such as engineers, scientists, and computer programmers, among others.

Federal law limits the number of new H-1B visas that are available each fiscal year to 65,000. Of the 65,000 available visas, 6,800 are reserved for citizens of Chile and Singapore pursuant to the terms of the United States-Chile and United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreements.

In addition to the 65,000 H-1B visas made available each fiscal year under the “regular” cap, an additional 20,000 H-1B visas are made available for beneficiaries who have obtained an advanced degree (i.e., a Master’s degree or higher) from a U.S. academic institution at the time of filing.

If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives more cap-subject H-1B petitions than the annual fiscal year limitation, USCIS will conduct a computer-generated random selection process or lottery. The first lottery will be limited to those individuals who possess an advanced degree from a U.S. academic institution.

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Courtesy of Ogletree Deakins – Ogletree Deakins is a member of the EACCNY