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To the surprise of nobody USCIS announced yesterday (April 7, 2016) that it has received more applications for new H-1B visas than is allowed by statute for the 2017 federal fiscal year. USCIS began accepting applications on April 1 and under their own working guidelines they leave the window for applicants to submit their petitions open for five (5) business days.  At the end of that time if more applications are made than the number of visas available, then USCIS closes down the process and moves to a lottery system for those timely filed applicants.

For those businesses that made the application deadline, the petitions will now be entered into a computer generated lottery system.  First, applicants with a Master’s degree from U.S. universities will go through the process for allocation of the 20,000 H-1B visas allocated to such candidates.  Second, the non-selected Master’s degree candidates will enter the Bachelor’s degree pool, and the process will occur again for the 65,000 H-1B visas available in this pool.  In recent years the odds of being selected in the lottery range from 1:2 to 1:4.  It is currently unknown how many applicants were made for 2017, so we do not know the odds as of yet.

In the meantime, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B applications for the following reasons:

  • 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.

Thompson Coe and myHRgenius Tip of the Week is not intended as a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


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