The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 15, 2013 that it anticipates that it may receive more than 65,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions and more than 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a U.S. Master’s degree or higher between April 1, 2013, and April 5, 2013. This could be the first time since April 2008 that the H-1B cap will require a lottery.
In view of the expected volume and possibility of meeting the cap within the first week of the filing season, USCIS announced that it will temporarily adjusted its current premium processing practice. USCIS provides a premium processing service and guarantees a 15-calendar-day processing time. To facilitate the prioritized data entry, premium processing service will begin on April 15, 2013.
USCIS will continue to accept the premium processing service request and fee filed concurrently with the H-1B petition during the time period that premium processing is unavailable – from April 1 to April 14, 2013. Petitioners may also opt to file under regular processing and upgrade a pending H-1B cap petition to premium processing once a receipt notice is issued. According to USCIS, all requests for premium processing received between April 1, 2013, and April 14, 2013, will be adjudicated when premium processing begins on April 15, 2013.
With this acknowledgment from the USCIS that the H-1B cap for the fiscal year 2014 will be used up within 5 days of the opening of the filing season, we urge all employers to contact their immigration attorney to immediately prepare the H-1B petition for their prospective employees. Pre-filing processing of H-1B petitions, starting with the Labor Condition Application (LCA), will take at least 6 days. To be assured of getting into the H-1B quota, the petition processing must begin two weeks before April 1, 2013.