First, the H-1B cap-subject petitions that qualified for the advanced degree slots that were received between April 1, 2015 and April 7, 2015 were entered into a computer-generated lottery on April 13, 2015 for the 20,000 spaces. Those advanced degree petitions not selected were entered into the lottery the same day for the 65,000 general slots along with all of the other H-1B cap-subject petitions received between April 1st and 7th. Any H-1B cap-subject petition received by USCIS outside of those dates or that was not selected for the lottery will eventually be rejected and returned to the petitioner or petitioner’s attorney – the filing fees for these rejected petitions will not be cashed unless there has been a duplicate filing.
For those who paid extra in order to use the premium processing method to file, USCIS has announced that that it will begin processing those cases on April 27, 2015. Some petitioners have already started receiving receipts for premium processing H-1Bs, but adjudication of these cases will not actually start before April 27th. Filing premium processing does NOT increase the chance of having an H-1B petition selected for the lottery, but it does mean that those premium processing petitioners will know first if their H-1Bs are selected for the lottery and, of course, they will be processed first. Premium processing can be requested at any time for an already filed regular H-1B petition.
Payments to USCIS are usually processed before the H-1B receipts are issued so H-1B petitioners should frequently check with the bank to see if the filing fee payments were cashed. If last year is any guide, H-1B receipts for regularly filed cap-subject cases should be issued by the end of May and a substantial number of petitions adjudicated by June 2015, however with requests for additional evidence, some H-1B cap cases may not be fully-adjudicated until August or even September 2015 and, of course, there were more than 60,000 petitions filed this year compared with last year, which could cause additional delays on regularly- filed petitions.
So what if the H-1B petition is rejected or wasn’t able to be filed in time for the cap lottery this year? There may be alternatives that should be explored with your immigration attorney. We have some suggestions on nonimmigrant visa alternatives here. There may also be immigrant visa options to consider as well.