“H” Visa Caps Reached for Fiscal Year 2016

H-1B

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced April 7 that the H-1B visa cap for FY2016 was reached in the first five business days of April 2015. Today, USCIS conducted the random lottery to select the 65,000 petitions that will be processed under the general cap as well as the 20,000 slots available under the advanced-degree exemption. USCIS received 233,000 petitions in total. H-1B is a non-immigrant visa for foreign professionals sponsored by an employer to work in the U.S.

USCIS also confirmed that it will continue to process H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap, including petitions for extension or amendment of status, petitions to change an existing H-1B employer, petitions for current H-1B workers to work for concurrent employers, and petitions filed by cap-exempt employers.

H-2B

In other immigration news, USCIS announced April 2 that it reached the H-2B cap for FY2015 on March 26. These are petitions seeking low-skilled, non-agricultural workers for start dates on or before September 30, 2015, when the 2015 federal fiscal year ends. This cap is administered on a first-come, first-served basis and tops out at 33,000 H-2B workers for each half-year.

USCIS continues to accept petitions from workers who were already “counted against the cap” and seek extension of stay, change of employer or terms of employment, or who meet certain specific conditions of employment (e.g., fish roe processors or working in the Mariana Islands or Guam).

Hindering H-2B processing is an injunction issued by a U.S. District Court in Florida that prevents the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) from processing labor certifications for H-2B workers under its 2008 regulations. USCIS and USDOL have announced their joint intention to promulgate new regulations for H-2B processing by April 30, 2015.