USCIS Expects Lottery for FY 2014 H-1B Cap Cases

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it anticipates reaching the annual cap for H-1B filings for FY 2014 in the first week available for filing, April 1 to 5, 2013. This would require USCIS to impose a lottery on the final day to randomly select from those cases assigned a receipt number which will be processed beginning October 1, 2013. Cases not selected or cases filed after the cap has filled will be rejected. USCIS will also delay premium processing of cases received during this period, and that processing will not start until April 15.

Current law imposes an annual cap of 65,000 new H-1B visas available each year, although the first 20,000 H-1B cases filed on behalf of persons holding advanced degrees from a U.S. college or university are exempt from the cap.

H-1B status is the basic non-immigrant classification for specialty knowledge or professional workers who hold foreign passports. A variety of U.S. industries employ H-1B workers. The best-known group is STEM graduates, holding degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math, but H-1B workers are found in many areas of the U.S. economy. Certain industries can hire H-1B workers without having them “counted” against the cap. These are workers at an institution of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit, nonprofit research organizations, or governmental research organizations. In addition, workers counted against the cap once can often transfer their H-1B to a new employer. Certain other categories of H-1B workers are also cap-exempt and some foreign workers fit into other status categories.

“Since there is a built-in processing delay for filing an H-1B petition, employers thinking of hiring a foreign worker who requires H-1B status to be work-authorized must contact us as soon as possible,” said Chris Bauer, manager of Immigration Services at MSEC. “It looks like there are only a few more days in the FY 2014 H-1B filing season in which a petition could be timely filed for a new worker.” Bauer can be reached at 303-223-5431 or cbauer@msec.org. Discussion of visa options for these workers is included in the cost of MSEC membership, although actually filing a petition requires payment of filing and MSEC service fees.