March 29, 2016

H-1B Lottery

USCIS confirmed to AILA that standard procedures will apply for the FY2017 lottery: If more than enough H-1Bs are received during the first 5 business days in April, a random lottery will be conducted for petitions received during that time period for first the master’s and then the regular cap.

As it does each year, on March 16, 2016, USCIS announced that it would begin accepting H-1B cap-subject cases on April 1, 2016 (AILA Doc. No. 16031607). The announcement included a statement that the “[t]he first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.” AILA received several inquiries from members who read this and were concerned that the process had changed, such that the “master’s cap” exemption process would be handled on a strict first-come, first-served basis, rather than the historical practice of a random computer selection from all eligible petitions received within the first five business days of the filing period, assuming more than 20,000 petitions are received during that period.

In correspondence and conversations with AILA representatives, USCIS confirmed that the practice this year will not be different than previous years. The process is as follows: If there are more than 20,000 “master’s cap” petitions filed during the first five business days in April, there will be a random computer selection from those petitions for the 20,000 exemptions. Any petitions not selected for the master’s cap will then be included in the random selection for the 65,000 regular cap.

AILA Doc No. 16032137 | Dated March 21, 2016