USCIS announced on April 7, 2017 that the H-1B cap has been reached for both the 65,000 “bachelor’s cap” visas as well as the additional 20,000 visas for persons holding U.S. master’s degrees. As a result, USCIS holds a lottery to determine which petitions will be accepted, and which will be returned to the petitioners. USCIS has not yet announced how many petitions were received, or when the lottery was held. However, lawyers, including our office, are reporting that receipts have started arriving. As of April 17, 2017, all of the reported receipts so far have been for “Masters Cap” cases.
The H-1B cap applies to persons who have not previously held H-1B status. It does not apply to extensions, or change of employers. It also does not apply to certain exempt categories such as universities, employers affiliated with universities such as teaching hospitals, certain nonprofit institutions, and J-1 waiver cases.