by Anne Zachritz

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the USCIS has reached the congressionally-mandated cap of 65,000 H-1B petitions for fiscal year (FY) 2016. The USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption.

The USCIS uses a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to randomly select the petitions needed to meet both the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general limit. The USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

Before running the lottery, the USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period, which ended April 7, 2015. Due to the high number of petitions, the USCIS is not yet able to announce the date it will conduct the random selection process.

The USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the congressionally-mandated cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the FY 2016 H-1B cap. The 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. For more information on the USCIS and its programs, please visit

If you have questions regarding H-1B petitions for employment of foreign workers, or if you would like to know more about how immigration can affect your business, please contact Anne Zachritz by email at or by phone at 405.272-9241.

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