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Iowa Immigration Law Blog: H-1B "lottery" expected - Premium Processing delayed for cap-subject H-1Bs - March 19, 2013

USCIS has announced it expects that all 65,000 “regular” and all 20,000 U.S. master’s degree H-1B slots will be filled in the first five days of filing (April 1 – 5) for the first time since 2008.  The government estimate was made after consultation with various stakeholders and announced March 15.

Because of the expected high demand for H-1Bs, along with historic usage of the Premium Processing service, USCIS also announced that it will suspend the expedite service for cap-subject H-1Bs (including U.S. master’s cap cases) until April 15.

“Premium Processing” is accessed by filing form I-907 and paying $1225.   It requires the government to adjudicate an eligible application in 15 calendar days (although the “adjudication” could be to ask for additional evidence and then a new 15-day clock starts when the additional evidence is received).  Normally the clock starts on the day the application is received by the Service Center.

For cap-subject H-1Bs only the clock will not start until April 15.  Premium Processing requests maybe filed concurrently with the H-1B application or may be filed when the case has been receipted.  Delaying the expedite service will allow the government to focus on receipting cases and allocating workload.

Premium Processing will continue to be available for other types of applications during the April 1 – 15 period.

If more than 65,000 “regular” H-1Bs (those in which the beneficiary does not have a U.S.-granted master’s degree) are received during the first five days of filing, the USCIS will conduct a lottery to chose those to be adjudicated.  Those not chosen will be returned to the applicant, including the filing fees.

The H-1B cap count has proved difficult to manage in the past.  In part, this is because applications are required to be filed in one of two Service Centers, making count coordination challenging.

The Immigration Department at Davis Brown has put into place a multi-layered review procedure to assure that H-1B cap applications will not be rejected for any reason except the lottery, which we cannot control.  We have been working to complete all applications well in advance of the filing deadline.  If you wish to make an H-1B application for April 1, please contact us as soon as possible as the required pre-filing procedure takes at least one week.