U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the statutory H-1B visa cap for fiscal year (FY) 2015. The agency has also received more than 20,000 visa applications under the advanced degree exemption. The H-1B cap for FY 2015 was reached in just five days. This visa program is popular among U.S. employers looking to bring highly skilled foreign workers to the U.S. for temporary jobs.
USCIS has announced that they will run a random selection process and pick the required number of petitions needed to meet the H-1B cap for FY 2015. However, the agency has not announced the date on which it will conduct the H-1B visa lottery.
The selection process for the advanced degree exemption will be conducted first and then for the general category. Visa applications filed under the master’s quota that were not selected in the lottery will be combined with the applications received under the general category. USCIS will return the applications that were not selected along with the filing fee to the applicants. Those applicants will need to wait and file their H-1B visa applications next year.
USCIS will continue to accept applications filed by applicants who are exempt from the H-1B cap for FY 2015. Applications filed to extend H-1B visas and applications filed to change the terms of employment for H-1B workers who are currently working in the U.S. will be accepted. Similarly, applications filed by workers seeking to change employers and to work in second H-1B positions will be accepted by the immigration agency.
Once USCIS selects the H-1B petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 and 20,000 visas under the general and the master’s categories, it will send the selected petitions to the service centers. After receiving those petitions, the service centers will start processing those petitions. Selected petition holders will be notified of their case numbers and they can use those numbers to check the approximate processing times for their case.