The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it received about 172,500 H-1B petitions during the FY-2015 filing period which began April 1, including H-1B petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption.  This represents a 72% increase from the 124,000 H-1B petitions received last year.

The agency also announced it has completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category quota (or “cap”) and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption.

In actuality, the agency ran two lotteries.  First, to select cases to fill the cap exemption for 20,000 holders of U.S. advanced degrees.   Once the advanced-degree lottery was completed, USCIS rolled the remaining cases – approximately 152,500 – into a second lottery to select enough cases to fill the standard H-1B quota of 65,000.

Based on these USCIS figures, cases had roughly a 42% chance of being chosen in the standard cap lottery – a significant drop from last year’s 62%.

Keep in mind, the USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to extend the amount of time current H-1B workers may remain in the United States, change the terms of H-1B employment, allow current H-1B workers to change employers, and allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

As of April 10th, the USCIS began issuing filing receipt notices for premium processing for H-1B cap cases.   We expect this notice period to take at least one week.  At this time, it is unknown when USCIS will commence issuance of filing receipts for cases not filed with premium processing.

Squire Sanders will notify clients who filed a cap-based H-1B petition if their case was selected for processing or not as soon as we receive notification from the USCIS if their individual case was accepted or rejected.    Until then, we are keeping our H-1B files and fingers crossed.