USCIS will begin accepting FY2014 H-1B petitions Monday, April 1, 2013, for employment beginning October 1, 2013. The Service anticipates that it may receive more petitions than the H-1B cap allows between April 1, 2013 and April 5, 2013. In that case, USCIS will hold a lottery to determine which cap-subject FY2014 H-1B petitions they accept for consideration. Note that those who do not file a cap-subject FY2014 H-1B petition before the annual quota is exhausted may be locked out of the H-1B program until the start of the following fiscal year (FY2015), which begins October 1, 2014.The H-1B program is subject to an annual quota. The FY2014 H-1B cap (i.e., the annual numerical limitation on H-1B petitions) is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a US master’s degree or higher are also exempt from the fiscal year cap of 65,000. Since October 1 is the beginning of each US government fiscal year, and since H-1B petitions may be filed up to 6 months in advance of the first date of proposed H-1B employment, April 1 is the first day each year that petitioners can file cap-subject H-1B petitions.
As mentioned above, based on feedback from a number of stakeholders, USCIS anticipates that it may receive more petitions than the H-1B cap allows between April 1, 2013 and April 5, 2013. The Service will therefore monitor the number of FY2014 H-1B petitions they receive, and they will notify the public of the date on which the numerical limit of the FY2014 H-1B cap has been reached. This date is known as the “final receipt date.”
If USCIS receives more petitions than it can accept under the annual H-1B cap requirements, they will use a lottery system to randomly select the number of H-1B petitions required to reach the annual H-1B cap. The Service will deem FY2014 H-1B petitions “accepted” on the date that they receives a properly filed H-1B petition including all applicable fees, not the date a FY2014 H-1B petition is postmarked. USCIS will reject cap-subject FY2014 H-1B petitions that are not selected in the H-1B lottery, as well as H-1B petitions received after they receive the number of petitions necessary to meet the FY2014 H-1B cap. USCIS last instituted a lottery for cap-subject H-1B petitions in April 2008.
In addition, cap-subject H-1B petitions can continue to request premium processing. Due to historic premium processing receipt levels, combined with the possibility that the FY2014 H-1B cap will be met in the first 5 business days of the H-1B filing season, USCIS has temporarily adjusted its current premium processing practice with regard to H-1B petitions. To facilitate the prioritized data entry of cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting premium processing, USCIS will begin premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions on April 15, 2013.
H-1B petitioners should follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions to avoid processing delays and possible requests for further evidence (RFE’s)