On April 7, 2016, USCIS announced that it had received more H-1B petitions that the statutory annual limit for H-1B employer filings for Fiscal Year 2017.
Federal law permits a maximum of 65,0000 first time H-1B petitions, and an additional 20,000 first time U.S. earned advanced degree holder H-1B petitions each fiscal year. Each federal fiscal year begins on October 1 and employers can file H-1B petitions 6 months in advance of that date which makes April 1 in recent years the target date for H-1B filings which have the following October 1 as the H-1B start date.
USCIS will randomly select those petitions which are to be counted against the 65,000 and additional 20,000 H-1B annual cap. It will first complete an intake processing for all H-1B petitions which it received before the announcement date. USCIS will then randomly determine which U.S. earned advanced degree H-1B petitions will be counted for the 20,000 advanced degree exemption, and then select the general H-1B category “lottery” winning employer H-1B petitions. USCIS will reject all subsequent cap subject H-1B petitions which it receives after April 7, 2016.
In Fiscal Year 2016, USCIS received more than 230,000 H-1B petitions, and H-1B filings for Fiscal Year 2017 may approach or exceed that number. Owing to high volume, USCIS does not know when it will conclude the selection process.
Not all H-1B employer petitions are subject to these annual caps, though. Foreign nationals already in H-1B status are exempt from annual H-1B numerical limitations, as are institutions of higher education or related non-profit entities, non-profit research organizations, and government research organizations. There is no numerical limit on the number of H-1B petitions such employers can file.