USCIS Issues H1B Cap Advisory, Expects Need for H1B Lottery

A week before the April 1, 2014 commencement of the fiscal year 2015 (FY15) cap season, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a notice regarding related filing procedures and expectations. The USCIS confirms expectations that the number of H1B cap-subject filings will exceed the allowable limit, thus necessitating a lottery selection process.

Filed Means Received – Not Post Marked

The USCIS will accept H1B cap-subject filings for a minimum of the first five business days of April, which is April 1-7, 2014 for FY15. The USCIS considers a case to be filed when it arrives at the appropriate USCIS filing location; postmarks will typically not be taken into consideration. Additionally, the case must be properly filed. This means it must contain all required forms, with all necessary signatures, and the filing must be accompanied by the required filing fees.

Lottery Expected

By April 7th, the USCIS anticipates receiving a sufficient number of H1B cap filings to reach both the 65,000 regular cap limit and the 20,000 advanced-degree exemptions. Assuming this occurs, the USCIS will conduct a random selection, or lottery, first of the advanced-degree cases, and then of the regular cap cases. These selections will determine which of the cases will be accepted for filing and processed through to a decision. The remaining cases will be returned, along with the unused filing fees, to the petitioner or the petitioner’s representative.

Premium Processing Modifications

In light of the high volume of cap cases that are expected to request expedited (or premium) processing, the USCIS has had to make some adjustments its processing timetables. The actual premium processing will begin no later than April 28, 2014. This is consistent with what occurred during cap season for fiscal year 2014, when the USCIS delayed the premium processing timetables, but was able to act on some of the cases faster than promised.


There is a great deal of pressure and anxiety surrounding the H1B cap filing season. The fate of many foreign nationals is likely to be determined by a random lottery. Some of the FY15 beneficiaries experienced the lottery last year, and are trying yet again. Subscribe to the MurthyBulletin to receive breaking news on the state of the FY15 H1B cap as soon as information becomes available.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.