Employers racing to file their H-1B visa petitions can stop. On Friday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reached its limit on H-1B petitions that are subject to the cap, the USCIS announced.
In just five days, the USCIS says it received more than enough petitions to fulfill the statutory cap of 65,000 H-1B petitions and 20,000 H-1B advanced degree exemption petitions since employers were allowed to file the paperwork on April 1.
According to the USCIS, it received a total of 124,000 H-1B petitions that are subject to the cap. Last year, the cap was reached in 10 weeks and the year before that it took roughly three times longer in the face of a sluggish economy, The Brookings Institution noted in a report. And while the cap was reached in lightning speed this year, the fastest in five years, it still doesn’t compare with the one-day record in 2008.
Now that the cap has been reached, the USCIS will use a computer-generated random selection process, otherwise known as the “lottery,” to chose from all the submitted H-1B petitions to find the final 65,000 statutory cap H-1B petitions and the 20,000 advanced degree petitions. A lottery date hasn’t yet been selected, because of an overwhelming number of petitions.
These fiscal 2014 H-1B petitions will then go on to the State Department, which has the final say on issuing the visas. Last year, the State Department approved a total of 135,530 H-1B visas, which includes both the combined cap of 85,000 statutory and advanced degree H-1B visas and the uncapped H-1B visas issued to non-profit and government research centers. The USCIS is continuing to accept H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap.
So, in other words, stay tuned to see how many H-1B visas will ultimately be issued for 2013.