What to Expect with H-1B 2015 Season

Now that the H-1B cases have been filed, we are anxiously waiting to get the news from USCIS on the cap count.

Last year, USCIS announced on April 5 that it received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the five day filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. Then, on April 7, 2013, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as a “lottery”) to select for processing a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption limit.

What to Expect This Year

This year, we observed a very high demand for H-1B visas, almost at the same level as last year but slightly higher. Other attorneys seem to experience the same. Given the demand, it is expected that USCIS will receive sufficient number of H-1B petitions within the first 5 business days (through April 7) and that the lottery will be held this year as well.

Please note that if sufficient number of petitions is filed within the first 5 business days of April, USCIS will reject any other petitions filed after April 7, 2014.

What Happens to Petitions during Lottery

If lottery is used this year to select 85,000 (65,000 general cap plus 20,000 U.S. master’s cap) petitions for adjudication, then USCIS will conduct the selection process for advanced degree exemption petitions first. All advanced degree petitions not selected will be part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit. In other words, the H-1B petitions filed under U.S. master’s degree cap will in that case have two chances in the lottery system.

Cases not selected during the lottery will be rejected and returned.

Updates from USCIS – Courier Delivery Problems

American Immigration Lawyers Association has reported certain problems with FedEx deliveries of H-1B petitions. Specifically, FedEx stated that about 200 petitions were delivered but not properly scanned. If you cannot verify delivery of H-1B package, you need to follow the instructions below provided by USCIS.

USCIS has stated that it will accept a second H-1B petition in certain limited circumstances. Specifically, for cap-subject petitions that were timely filed, if, upon inquiry, the carrier indicates that there may be a delivery delay or the package has been damaged, the petitioner may file a second H-1B petition with:

  • A new fee;
  • An explanation as to why the second petition is being filed, with supporting evidence (such as the notice from the carrier); and
  • A request to withdraw the first H-1B cap petition.

USCIS will return the withdrawn petitions with the fee, even if they have already been receipted.

Petitions that do not include the above-referenced items will be treated as duplicate petitions and will be denied or revoked, and USCIS will not refund the filing fees. Please also note that if the FY2015 cap is met within the first five business days of April, USCIS will reject all petitions received after April 7, 2014, including duplicate H-1B petitions filed in accordance with these instructions.

We will provide further updates as they come out. Stay tuned.