How the FY2016 H-1B Visa Lottery Works and What Happens Once USCIS Receives Your H-1B Petition

Today, April 7, 2015, USCIS announced that it has reached the H-1B cap for FY2016. Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period.

Initial intake/review will sort out multiple or duplicate H-1B petitions filed by an employer for one employer.  Regulations require USCIS to deny or revoke those multiple or duplicative petitions that an employer files for the same H-1B worker, and they will not return or refund the filing fees.

USCIS will first randomly select 20,000 petitions from the U.S. Master’s cap petitions that will be processed. All unselected advanced degree petitions will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general limit. Rejected petitions will be returned to the attorney or employer along with the filing fees (except for multiple or duplicative filings by an employer for an employee). Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce when it will conduct the random selection process.

After the visa lottery is complete, USCIS will inform all the selected petition holders with their case number for case status tracking purposes within one week.

For those who filed for premium processing, please note that premium processing does not increase the change of being selected in the lottery, but may enable earlier notification of whether the petition was accepted or rejected. According to USCIS, FY2016 H-1B premium processing review will begin on May 11 or so. That’s to say, for those premium processing petitions that won the visa lottery, they should be able to hear back from USCIS by the end of May. Petitions filed without premium processing may take several months to process, but normally should be processed before October 1, 2015.

We encourage H-1B applicants to subscribe to the USCIS H-1B Cap Season email updates located on the H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Cap Season Web page: or keep following up with our blog updates for further FY2016 H-1B announcement.