US reaches H-1B cap for 2017

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) yesterday announced that it has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for the 2017 fiscal year, just a week after the programme opened.

The department has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the US advanced degree exemption.

USCIS will now use a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to randomly select the petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption.

The advanced degree exemption petitions will be selected first, with all the unselected applications then becoming part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general caps. 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 ended 7th April. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is yet 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 2017 H-1B cap. 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.

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.

Article by David Fuller