Opening date for 2017 H-1B petitions draws nearer

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B visa petitions for the 2017 fiscal year (FY) on 1st April.

US businesses use the H-1B programme to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialised knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming.

As last year, the congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for FY 2017 is set at 65,000. However, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.

Anyone who plans to apply through this programme will need to get their application in quick. USCIS expects to receive far more than the required 65,000 petitions within the first five business days of the programme being open.

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 computer-generated 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.

All H-1B petitioners must follow the statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions in order to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence. USCIS has developed detailed information, including an optional checklist, Form M-735, Optional Checklist for Form I-129 H-1B Filings, on how to complete and submit an FY 2017 H-1B petition.

Cases will be considered accepted on the date USCIS receives a properly filed petition with the appropriate fees.

Article by David Fuller