Today, USCIS announced that it had completed the H-1B lottery selection and that it had received approximately 233,000 petitions for fiscal year 2016 beginning in October 2015. Last year, USCIS received 172,500 petitions. The numbers this year mean that there was an increase of over 35% from last year. USCIS randomly selected petitions to meet the general category cap of 65,000 and the advance degree exemption of 20,000. Based on this year’s numbers, it appears that barely more than one in three petitions were selected.

As previously announced, USCIS will begin premium processing selected cases no later than May 11. Unselected cases will be rejected and returned. Petitioners will have to wait for a few more weeks to find out if their petitions were accepted or rejected by the lottery. The majority of petitions will be rejected and petitioners may need to start thinking about and considering alternatives to the H-1B such as continued work on OPT, L-1, O-1 or other potential non-immigrant categories as may be appropriate for the relevant employee.