The Immigration and Nationality Act places an annual cap of 65,000 on the number of new H-1B petitions that can be filed in any given year. In addition, the first 20,000 petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. masters degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.
The Immigration and Nationality Act places an annual cap of 65,000 on the number of new H-1B petitions that can be filed in any given year. In addition, the first 20,000 petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master's degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap. The government's fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30 of each year. New H-1B cap cases may begin employment at the beginning of the fiscal year, on October 1st. Because the I-129 Form, on which employers petition for H-1B workers, limits the filing window to a period 6 months in advance of an employee's start date, this means that the filing window for the H-1B cap season starts on April 1st of each year.
To administer the cap, USCIS accepts H-1B cap-subject petitions until it receives enough to meet the statutory cap. Typically, USCIS receives over 65,000 (plus the 20,000 “Masters Cap” cases) on the first day of filing. However, they will continue to accept filings for the first five business days of April. For this year, that means that USCIS will accept cap cases from April 1 through April 7th. Of all cases filed during that period, USCIS will reject any petitions that do not contain the proper filing fees or signatures. All others will be entered into a completely random lottery using a computer generated system. First 20,000 “Masters Cap” cases will be chosen. Those eligible for Masters Cap and not chosen will be entered back into the pool. Then another lottery is run on all remaining petitions and 65,000 cap cases are chosen.
USCIS will then mail receipt notices (or in the case of Premium Processing cases), they will also email receipt notices) to the petitioners and attorneys of the cases that were accepted into the lottery. For cases that do not make it into the lottery, USCIS will reject the entire petition, mailing it back to the petitioner or attorney of record.
Usually premium processing receipts on accepted cases are emailed in April. Regular receipts are generally received by mail sometime in May. Rejected petitions are usually returned sometime in June.