H1B Cap Lottery Update for FY16

On April 13, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the completion of the H1B random lottery process for fiscal year 2016 (FY16). As previously noted, the total count of about 233,000 greatly exceeded the cap limits, and was substantially higher than the approximately 172,500 cap-subject petitions filed in fiscal year 2015 (FY15). Now that the lottery has been completed, however, stakeholders all have one question in mind: When will I know whether my case was selected?

eMail Receipt Notices for Premium Processing Cases Arriving

The Murthy Law Firm began receiving eMail receipt notices for premium processing cases on April 14, the day after the lottery was completed. However, the USCIS has indicated that “the 15-day processing period [for cap-subject H1B petitions] will begin on April 27, 2015, regardless of the date on the form I-797 receipt notice, which indicates the date that the premium processing fee is received.” This is a change from the previously announced premium processing start date of May 11, 2015.

Standard Processing Cases: Notification by Mail in 2 Weeks

The USCIS sends receipt notices for standard (not premium) processing cases by regular mail. There is no eMail option for these cases. In the last fiscal year (FY15), these notices began to arrive within less than two weeks of the lottery completion and continued to trickle in well into the month of May. It remains to be seen whether the same will hold true this year.

Cases Not Selected in Lottery: Packages Returned After Receipts Finalized

Cases not selected in the lottery are returned by mail with the uncashed filing fee checks to the petitioner or attorney-of-record. However, this process does not begin until after the USCIS has finished issuing receipt notices for the cases that were selected. In FY15, the rejected cases began to arrive in early June.


The volume of FY16 filings is much higher than the number of cases filed in FY15. While this may have some impact on the initial processing timelines, the total volume of cases that are accepted for adjudication remains unchanged. MurthyDotCom will provide further updates as the FY16 H1B cap season progresses.


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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.