U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced

on April 7, 2016, that it has received enough H-1B petitions to

reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2017.

USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B

petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as

the master's cap.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers

in occupations that require at least a bachelor's degree or

equivalent.

Process for FY 2017: On April 12, 2016, USCIS

announced that they received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the

filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for

the advanced degree exemption. The number of petitions filed this

year is 3,000 higher than the record breaking filings for FY 2016.

On April 9, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection

process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000

general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree

exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions

with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a

duplicate filing. The agency conducted the selection process for

the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree

petitions then became part of the random selection process for the

65,000 limit.

Premium Processing: USCIS announced on March

16, 2016 that they will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases

no later than May 16, 2016. For H-1B petitions not subject to

the cap and for any other visa classification, the 15-day

processing period for premium processing service begins on the date

USCIS receives the request.

Cap Exempt Petitions: USCIS will continue to

accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the

cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have

been counted previously against the cap will also not be counted

towards the congressionally mandated FY 2017 H-1B cap. USCIS will

continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current

    H-1B worker may remain in the United States;

  • Change the terms of employment for

    current H-1B workers;

  • Allow current H-1B workers to change

    employers; and

  • Allow current H-1B workers to work

    concurrently in a second H-1B position. U.S. businesses use the

    H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require

    highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science,

    engineering, and computer programming.

The USCIS announcement about the H-1B cap being reached is

available at

https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-reaches-fy-2017-h-1b-cap.

For more information, see

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-fiscal-year-fy-2017-cap-season.

The USCIS announcement about premium processing is available at

https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-will-accept-h-1b-petitions-fiscal-year-2017-beginning-april-1-2016?platform=hootsuite.

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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought

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