+1(212)459-3800 [email protected]

On April 1, 2016, USCIS began accepting H-1B applications for FY2017 (for the fiscal year from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017). USCIS will receive petitions until they determine that they have received more than the maximum allowed under the H-1B cap quota (65,000 for U.S. Bachelor’s Degree holders, and an additional 20,000 for U.S. Master’s Degree holders). If USCIS receives a sufficient number of petitions to reach the numerical limit on any one of the first five business days (April 1, 2016 through April 7, 2016), all cap-subject petitions received during the first five (5) business days will be included in a random-selection lottery.  

Last year, USCIS received a total of 233,000 H-1B petitions, resulting in an approximately 30% chance of making the lottery. The chances are slightly better for U.S. Master’s Degree holders, since the lottery system will first be imposed on the U.S. Master’s Cap filings to select 20,000, and the remaining cases will be entered into the Regular Cap lottery. It is expected that both the U.S. Bachelor’s and Master’s Caps will both be met by April 7th this year as well.

If both the Bachelor’s and Master’s caps are met within the first 5 business days, USCIS will begin data entry for the lottery. Once the lottery has been completed, applicants who have been selected for the lottery will receive a receipt notice in the mail. This is the only way applicants will know whether they made the lottery or not, and given the large number of applications, it may take several months for USCIS to issue receipt notices. However, given the steady increase in H-1B applications over the past several years, USCIS has tried to better streamline the notification process, but again, this depends on the number of applications they receive this year.

We have seen several H-1B cases, some of which received Requests for Further Evidence (RFE), where the final decision was not made until after October 1st. For some instances where adjudication is being delayed, applicants may want to consider upgrading to Premium Processing Service, which will allow for a response within 15 days.

Please note that the above information is for new H-1B applications for FY2017, and does not apply for current H-1B holders who are applying for an extension or filing for a change of employer petition.