USCIS Proposes Changes to H-1B Cap Process

USCIS Proposes Changes to H-1B Cap Process

On December 3, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced published changes to the annual H-1B cap program.  The H-1B program allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

Each year, the first date employers may file for a new H-1B petition is usually April 1.  Congress mandated an annual cap on new H-1B petitions of 85,000. When USCIS receives more than enough petitions to reach the cap, a computer-generated random selection process (“H-1B lottery”) is used to select the 85,000 petitions.  First, USCIS executes a lottery for petitions on behalf of candidates who hold a U.S. master’s degree or higher.  Those petitions are selected for a 20,000 H-1B “set-aside” for graduate degrees.  Any “master’s cap” cases that are not selected in this lottery, are re-entered into the general lottery for the remaining 65,000 petitions. 

USCIS’ Proposed Changes:

  • Employers seeking to file H-1B petitions will be required to pre-register for one of the 85,000 petitions available.
  • USCIS would execute the “regular cap” first, then the “master’s cap.”