USCIS announces H-1B cap premium processing to begin no later than May 11

12 Mar 15

UNITED STATES

In anticipation of the April 1 start of the H-1B cap filing season, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced it will begin 15-day premium processing of cap petitions no later than May 11.

Last year, USCIS announced that premium processing would begin no later than April 28. The further postponement from last year’s date indicates that the agency is expecting a very high volume of petitions that is likely to surpass last year’s record numbers and will almost certainly exceed the numerical caps on H-1B visas set by Congress.

Employers may see delayed receipts and may have to wait for adjudication on cap-subject petitions until late May for premium processing cases. Petitioners requesting premium processing are eligible for 15-day processing from the time the premium processing begins. Regular processing cases may take longer than the 15-day period for processing.

On April 1, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B cap-subject petitions for employees starting work Oct. 1. USCIS announced that it expects to receive more petitions than the H-1B cap during the first five business days of filing. If petitions exceed the numerical quotas in the first week, the agency will need time to calculate the petitions and run a computerized lottery system of selection. Last year, petitions reached 172,500 in the first five days of filing, and USCIS used the lottery to randomly select petitions within the quotas. The annual caps are 65,000 for undergraduate degree holders and an additional 20,000 for advanced-degree holders.

BAL Analysis: The USCIS announcement is a reminder that filing volume is expected to be extremely high this year. Employers will not know if a petition has survived the lottery until a premium-processing receipt or a regular-processing receipt is issued. The change in the prior H-1B cap premium processing schedule means employers may be waiting longer to find out if H-1B cap petitions are selected.

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