USCIS Reaches H-1B Cap for FY 2017 (Which Starts October 1, 2016)

by Joseph McKeown

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap numbers for fiscal year (FY) 2017, which starts October 1, 2016. Cap cases filed beginning April 1 this year are included in the FY 2017 count. USCIS states that they have also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the US advanced degree (master’s) exemption. As in previous years, USCIS will use a random computer-generated process (i.e., the H-1B “lottery”) to select the 65,000 petitions for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption.

After completing intake for all filings received during the filing period, which ran from April 1 through April 7, USCIS will first randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions will become part of the lottery for the 65,000 general cap lottery. The date of the lottery is yet to be determined, and USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.  

USCIS will continue to accept and process non-cap subject H-1B petitions, including extensions and petitions that have been counted in previous cap year numbers. Users can sign up for H-1B cap season email updates, if they wish, and we will also continue to provide updates as we receive them.

UPDATE APRIL 13, 2016: USCIS announced that they received over 236,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions during the filing period. On April 9, USCIS used the computer-generated random selection process (aka the "lottery") to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will now reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing. USCIS will begin premium processing for those H-1B cap cases that requested it no later than May 16, 2016.