The USCIS announced it will accept H-1b petitions for fiscal year 2016 beginning April 1, 2016. The congressionally mandated cap on H-1b visas remains at 65,000. As every year, the first 20,000 H-1b petitions filed for individuals with U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.
The USCIS expects to receive more petitions than what it is allowed to issue under the cap and the USCIS will notify the public within five days of April 1, 2015 with a preliminary count. As it does every year, the agency will utilize a lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions required to meet the cap.
Although H-1b petitions and applicants may avail themselves of premium processing when filing their H-1b petitions, The USCIS will first prioritize on data entry of cap-subject petitions and then begin adjudicating premium processing cases on or before May 11, 2015. Cases will be considered accepted on the date USCIS takes possession of a properly filed petition with the correct fee.
The statement that USCIS has to “take possession” of an H-1b petition to consider it properly filed is somewhat peculiar because the term “taking possession” is not in the statutory or regulatory definition of properly filed. Properly filed means a signed petition accompanied by the requisite fees and delivered to the USCIS timely,