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As predicted, the available H-1B visa cap for Fiscal Year 2015 was met quickly.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Monday that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions, just six days after the petition season opened.

With H-1B visas, employers are able to hire foreign workers with specialized knowledge or technical expertise, such as scientists, engineers, or computer professionals. Congress sets a limit each year on how many visas can be issued.  The cap for FY2015 was 65,000 with another 20,000 allocated to those with master’s or higher degrees obtained at universities in the United States. USCIS began accepting petitions on April 1 and has already received more than enough to meet both caps for FY2015.

Approximately 175,000 petitions were filed, which is more than double the number of available visas, according to Staffing Industry Analysts.  USCIS will conduct a random selection process (i.e., lottery) to determine which of the petitioners will receive the limited number of visas . Petitions applying to the 20,000 advanced degree cap will be selected first.  Any advanced degree petitions that are not selected in the first lottery will then be entered into the selection process for the 65,000 cap.

It is unknown when the lottery will take place. First, USCIS must complete the intake process. Filing fees will be refunded for any rejected petitions unless they are found to be a duplicate filing.

USCIS will continue to accept petitions for those exempt from the cap, including current H-1B workers who had been counted toward a previous cap.  These workers can file petitions to extend the amount of time they can remain in the United States, to change the terms of employment, to change employers, or to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

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