U.S.C.I.S. announced on March 15, 2013, that it expected to receive more petitions than the H-1B cap between April 1, 2013 and April 5, 2013, confirming the observations of many H-1B practitioners who have seen a greater influx of requests for H-1B petitions this year than in the past five. The agency also announced that premium processing requests would begin to be worked upon on April 15, 2013, thereby making premium processing a 30 day timeline rather than the normal 15 days. U.S.C.I.S. attributed the delay to historic premium processing receipt levels combined with the possibility that the H-1B cap would be met in the first 5 business days of the filing season. It stated the cap for FY-2014 as 65,000 along with the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with U. S. Masters degree or higher, but did not deduct for the number that would be taken from the cap under the Singapore/Chile Free Trade Agreement. It also touched upon the procedure to be used when the cap is near exhaustion – a lottery system which randomly selects a number of petitions required to meet the numerical limit and that U.S.C.I.S. would reject petitions subject to the cap and not selected under the lottery as well as petitions received after it had the number of petitions necessary to meet the cap.

We wish to give two pieces of advice to the readership, the first that premium processing has nothing to do with an individual’s ability to qualify for a cap number – it only serves to expedite an adjudication once the petition has been included in the cap; and second that many organizations may be on short schedules or even close for Passover on Tuesday, March 26 and/or for Good Friday on Friday, March 29, and H-1B filers should take this into consideration in preparing the petitions.

This article © 2013 Alan Lee, Esq.

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