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Davis Brown Immigration Law Blog

Information about H-1B Filings FY2017 - March 31, 2016

The H-1B “cap” petition filing deadline is quickly approaching.  As a reminder, this is the national deadline for submitted petitions to sponsor workers in “specialty occupations” for those positions that are subject to the numerical limitation or “cap” for H-1B visas each federal fiscal year.


If you are filing a cap petition, the following information may be helpful:


  • The cap petitions will be accepted the first five (5) business days of April (April 1 – 7).  The last day a package can be sent (via overnight mail) is April 6, 2016.
  • Premium processing will be suspended for H-1B cap petitions as of April 1 and will be resumed no later than May 16.  Therefore, if you file using premium processing (i.e., expedited review for an additional filing fee), you should have some response (typically a request for evidence or an approval) by May 31.
    • You may also interfile the premium processing fee after a receipt is issued if desired.
  • USCIS will conduct a computer-generated lottery for the cases received in the first five business days assuming more than the allotment of 65,000 regular filings and 20,000 US master’s degree holder filings are received.  We expect this will happen.
    • USCIS does not reject all the filings in excess of the allotment immediately to make sure that the full allotment is awarded.  The law requires them to approve the allotted number.
  • You will know you were selected in the lottery if you receive an I-797 receipt for your application. You will know you were not selected for the lottery when you receive a rejection package returning the forms and filing fees (all filing fees are returned for those not selected).
  • Until you are rejected, you have a chance of being selected.  In the past, we have received some rejections or receipts as late as June. 
    • In this situation, if you are in OPT (optional practical training) and relying on “cap gap” for your work authorization (meaning your OPT has expired after the filing, but you are continuing to work because your petition was filed), the cap gap continues until you receive a rejection or denial of the H-1B petition or October 1, 2016, whichever occurs first.
    • We will be providing additional detailed information about STEM OPT shortly to explain the recently-published regulation that is expected to go into effect May 10.
  • Be sure to check with us before international travel after your H-1B cap case is filed.


Good luck to all in the H-1B cap lottery.  We wish, of course, that our immigration law was more rational and less random.