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UPDATE: Fiscal Year 2015 H-1B Quota

20:04 05 August in News Updates
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The filing window for H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2014 numerical cap will open on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.   The earliest start date of employment pursuant to these H-1Bs will be October 1, 2014.

The visa numbers available remain unchanged:

Regular/Bachelor’s Cap:    68,000, with 6,800 reserved for applicants from Chile and Singapore pursuant to trade agreements with those countries.

Master’s Cap:   20,0000 for individuals who hold advanced degrees (Master’s or higher) from a U.S. university.

H-1B Lottery

USCIS has announced that it anticipates it may receive more than 65,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions and more than 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher between April 1, 2014, and April 7, 2014.

If this occurs, all cap-subject H-1B petitions received at USCIS from Tuesday, April 1, 2014 through Monday, April 7, 2014 will be entered into a random lottery.  Those selected in the lottery will receive a visa number under the quota.  Therefore, all petitions received at USCIS from April 1 through April 7 have an equal chance at being selected for a visa number.

If the quota is not met within the first 5 filing days, USCIS will continue to accept cap-subject H-1B petitions until the quota has been reached.  Once the quota is reached, USCIS will announce a “final receipt date,” and return any petitions received after that date.  In this case, there is no lottery.

Applicants will know they have received a number under the quota if/ when USCIS issues a formal receipt notice for the H-1B petition filing.  LMAC will send an e-mail to the petitioning employer and the foreign national employee when the petition is filed with (that is, couriered via FedEx to) USCIS.  LMAC will also forward the receipt notice to the employee (via the employer) as soon as it is received.

USCIS will reject cap-subject petitions that are not selected, as well as those received after the date the quota is met.  Petitions that are rejected will be returned to counsel with the government filing fees.  LMAC will promptly refund the USCIS filing fees to the employer for any such cases.

If an employer needs to file a cap-subject H-1B petition and has not yet initiated that case with us, we strongly recommend that the case be initiated immediately, as it will be necessary to file the petition the first week of April to provide the best chances for the case to be selected under the quota.

Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for Cap Subject H-1Bs

For an additional fee, USCIS offers premium processing service for certain employment-based petitions.  “Premium processing” guarantees a response (approval, denial or request for additional evidence) on these cases within 15-calendar-days of filing.

Due to the historic premium processing receipt levels, combined with the possibility that the H-1B cap will be met in the first 5 business days of the filing season, USCIS has announced that it will temporarily adjust its current premium processing practice. Per USCIS, to facilitate the prioritized data entry of cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing, premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions will begin by April 28, 2014.

USCIS will continue to accept premium processing requests during the time period that premium processing is unavailable – from April 1 to April 28.  Petitioners may also upgrade a pending H-1B cap petition to premium processing once a receipt notice is issued.  All requests for premium processing received between April 1, 2014, and April 28, 2014, will be initiated when premium processing begins on or before April 28, 2014.

Please note that the above delay on the premium processing clock applies only to cap-subject H-1B petitions.  The 15-day processing period for premium processing service for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap, or for any other eligible classification, continues to begin on the date that the request is received.

Also, please note that premium processing only speeds the final adjudication at USCIS.  Premium processing does NOT increase the chances of an H-1B petition being selected under the quota.  Further, premium processing does not advance the start date of employment; by regulation that is fixed at October 1, 2014.

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