The filing period for H-1B Petitions subject to the H-1B Cap for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2014 (FY-2015), will begin on April 1, 2014. The number of H-1B petitions for the coming fiscal year is expected to significantly exceed the approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions that were filed last year. According to one estimate, the number of petitions could reach 165,000 or higher.
Do I have to win the lottery to receive an H-1B visa?
As a result, once again it is very likely that USCIS will hold a lottery to determine which petitions will fill the annual quota of 20,000 advanced degree cap petitions and 65,000 “regular” cap petitions. Current regulations require that that if USCIS receives a sufficient number of petitions to reach the cap limits during the first five business days in April, it will conduct a lottery. Consequently, petitions USCIS receives by April 7 should be included in the lottery. Nevertheless, it is recommended that employers file their H-1B petitions for delivery to USCIS on April 1.
But what if I file with Premium Processing?
Also like in past years, Premium Processing adjudications for H-1B cases are not expected to begin immediately. For H-1B petitions subject to the FY-2015 Cap, cases filed via Premium Processing that are selected in the lottery, should begin to receive Receipt Notices beginning approximately April 15. Those filed by regular processing may not receive Receipt Notices until May.
Premium Processing is a USCIS service available for certain employment-based petitions and applications whereby a petitioner or applicant may request the USCIS to take action on the eligible case within 15 days after the date the request has been received by the USCIS. The current fee for Premium Processing is $1,225, in addition to the regular filing fees for the eligible case. Action on a case filed via Premium Processing may refer to:
- Issuance of an approval notice;
- Issuance of a request for evidence;
- Issuance of a notice of intent to deny; or
- Referral for investigation of suspected fraud or misrepresentation.
Employers who file H-1B petitions via Premium Processing, however, should not expect that this will increase their chances of obtaining an H-1B under the quota. But using Premium Processing will result in employers receiving H-1B Receipt Notices more quickly than if they file by regular processing,
Consequently, employers, and the employees they are sponsoring for H-1B status, should know whether their petitions have been accepted for adjudication by USCIS earlier than those who do not file via Premium Processing.
Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C., has over three decades of experience handling H-1B cases. If your organization is interested in employing a foreign national in a professional position, please do not hesitate to contact our office.