USCIS received 190,098 H-1B petitions during the first week of April. The cap has been reached every year for the past six years but the total is down from last year’s total of 199,000. The Service conducted its computer-generated random selection process on April 11th.  In line with its usual practice, USCIS conducted the master’s cap lottery first and unselected petitions became part of the regular cap lottery.

USCIS will return all unselected petitions with their filing fees unless the returned petition is a prohibited multiple filing. In that case, the filing fees will not be returned. USCIS will also start the process of sending out receipts for accepted petitions.  Based on previous experience, receipts for cases which made the lottery selection may start to be received in approximately two to three weeks and the mailings will last for a few weeks due to the volume.  Since premium processing of this year’s cap cases was suspended, there will be no emailed receipts.

The H-1B lottery creates a stressful situation for employers and employees alike, perhaps even more pronounced this year. Not only did USCIS suspend premium processing just before the April 1 filing deadline, it also released at the end of March guidance regarding how to determine whether a petition is a “multiple filing” and the standards for third-party worksite H-1Bs. While possibly creating problems for employers who rely on H-1B workers, these announcements further President Trump’s Buy American and Hire American executive order, which directs DHS to protect the interests of U.S. workers and ensure that there is no fraud, abuse, or circumvention of the laws.

USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions that are filed for individuals who are not subject to the cap.