On April 7, 2014, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it received approximately 172,500 total H-1B cap-subject petitions between April 1, the first day USCIS began accepting H-1B cap-subject petitions, and April 7, the last day to file an H-1B cap petition for FY 2015. This figure includes both regular cap-subject petitions and petitions filed under the U.S. Master’s cap exemption and far exceeds the statutory limit of 65,000 for regular cap petitions and 20,000 for U.S. Master’s cap petitions. Given the excess number of petitions, the USCIS completed the computer-generated random selection process (“lottery”) to determine which petitions would be accepted for adjudication. In the lottery process, the USCIS first selects 20,000 qualifying H-1B U.S.-Master’s cap-subject petitions from the pool of U.S. Master’s Cap petitions received. Those U.S. Master’s cap petitions that were not selected in the first lottery are then added to the pool of regular H-1B cap subject petitions. The USCIS then randomly selects 65,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions from the unselected U.S. Master’s cap petitions and the regular cap petitions. Our team has received questions regarding this process. Here is a summary of those questions and our answers:
Q: How will I know if my petition has been accepted?
A: While it is unlikely that the USCIS has processed all of the cap cases yet, the earliest way to know if your petition was accepted is to see if the filing fee checks have been deposited by the USCIS. If you have access to the check information, you may look to see if your filing fee checks were deposited. On the back on the checks, you will find your receipt number.*
Otherwise, the USCIS will notify our team by email or my regular mail (on the Form I-797) whether your petition was accepted or rejected. Please rest assured that the moment our team receives any notifications from the USCIS, we will immediately inform you of such correspondence.
* If our firm issued the checks, we kindly ask that you refrain from contacting our accounting team to request this information.
Q: When will I find out if my petition has been accepted?
A: With 172,500 petitions on their hands, it will take some time for the USCIS to inform you as to whether your petition was received or rejected. While we have received email notifications a few of our clients who filed under Premium Processing, notifying us that the petition was received, do not be alarmed if you have not received any communication from us or the USCIS regarding whether your petition was accepted or rejected. Right now, it’s simply a matter of waiting for the USCIS to process the numerous petitions they have on their hands.
Q: I requested premium processing. What happens now?
A: The USCIS announced in March 25 that they would begin adjudicating premium processing H-1B cap-subject petitions no later than April 28. If your petition was accepted, it will be adjudicated within 15 business days, placing the adjudication date around May 13.
Q: Can I upgrade to premium processing?
A: Yes. You may upgrade a pending H-1B petition to premium processing once you receive a receipt notice(Form I-797) from the UCSIC. In this situation, the USCIS will adjudicate your case within 15 days of receiving the request for premium processing.
If your petition was not selected, there may still be hope. As you wait to find out if your petition was accepted and then wait even longer for your case to be adjudication, we will be running a series of articles, entitled H-1B Alternatives. Check our website often to learn about what alternatives to the H-1B visa may be available to you.