As the FY2019 H-1B Cap season approaches (April 2-6, 2018), USCIS headquarters has indicated that it intends to follow existing lottery procedures, the same used for the FY2018 H-1B season. Additionally, USCIS has indicated that it does not anticipate that premium processing will be suspended for all H-1B petitions as was the case last year, but noted that there may be a “short” suspension of premium processing for H-1B Cap petitions.
USCIS conducts an H-1B lottery when they receive more new petitions than it needs to ensure the approval of the maximum 85,000 H-1B visas allotted by Congress each year. In recent years, many more petitions have been filed by employers seeking H-1b visas than are supported by the allotment. USCIS regulations permit filing H-1B visas not more than 6 month prior to the availability at the next fiscal year’s allotment, which occurs on October 1. If a sufficient number of petitions is filed during the first 5 business days after April 1 to meet the entire year's requirements, USCIS must conduct lotteries for regular cap (65,000) and Master’s cap (20,000) visas.
The H-1B category is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, which require at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. These visas can be valid for up to 3 years and are renewable at least once.
Employers interested in filing H-1B petitions on behalf of current or prospective employees are welcome to contact our office, and should do so not later than mid-February 2018.