The USCIS announced on April 5, 2013 that the H-1B cap was reached in the first week petitions could be filed for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2013. Because more than 85,000 petitions were submitted, a computer generated lottery will be held to determine which petitions will be processed. USCIS will take a few days to data entry the information required, and then will first conduct the lottery for the 20,000 advanced degree graduates. All remaining advanced degree graduates will be entered into the regular cap lottery for the remaining 65,000 visas. The remaining petitions will be rejected and returned to the petitioners. Premium processing for those petitions both requesting premium processing (and paying the additional fee) and selected will begin to be processed on April 15. The remaining petitions will be processed over the next few months, presumably all before the designated start date of October 1, 2013.
The “cap-gap” regulation provides that beneficiaries of the selected H-1B petitions currently employed pursuant to Optional Practical Training will be permitted to continue working until the H-1B becomes effective on October 1, although the Optional Practical Training may expire before this date.
The strong demand for the H-1B visa, often referred to as the high tech visa because it is relied upon by employers seeking high skilled technology workers, reflects the growing economy. We hope that this strong demand, and the adverse affect it will have on employer’s ability to hire engineers and technology professionals between now and October 2014 will encourage Congress to provide relief as Comprehensive Immigration Reform is debated over the coming weeks.