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BABC Member Foster, LLP



The H-1B filing season for new petitions starts on April 1 and lasts for only five business days.

H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). It allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

foster-logo1.pngThe five-day period is because the annual H-1B quotas — “regular cap” and “master’s cap” — total only 85,000, and generally they are both reached within the first week of filing.

When that happens, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) applies a random numeric selection process, the H-1B “lottery,” to petitions received in the first five business days, in order to select which petitions will be considered for approval.

The CIS first conducts a master’s cap lottery to select up to 20,000 filings on behalf of those with U.S. master’s degrees or other U.S. advanced degrees. The CIS then conducts a second lottery to select the remaining petitions. Petitions not selected under the master’s cap will have a second chance at selection under the regular cap.

Not every petition filed will be accepted, and not every petition accepted will be approved. And because the next opportunity to file is over a year away, the pressure is on to get it right the first time.