April 1 is fast approaching and almost everyone agrees that the H-1B cap will be filled very quickly this year. Recently, the government was added to the list of those who thought exactly this and announced as much to the public. In order to deal with the large number of expected applications, the government has also announced that they will delay premium processing (where you can pay $1225 to have your petition answered in 15 calendar days) for two weeks. As such, the government will spend the first few days counting the filings so that April 15 will be ‘day 1’. The announcement regarding the delay in premium processing will not negatively impact a premium processing case and a premium processing case filed on April 1 should hear something by April 30, as opposed to April 15.
This is how the processing will work this year. If you file on March 29 (Friday), your application will likely get to the USCIS on April 1 (Monday). USCIS will hold the filings until April 5 (Friday), and at the end of the day on April 5, they will count all the filings. You should keep in mind that they may not report how many applications they have until April 8 or 9.
Based on the filings between April 1 and April 5, if there are less filings than what is required to fill the cap, then all cases will be receipted and April 15 will be ‘day 1’ for purposes of the 15 day premium processing request.
If the filings that arrive between April 1 and April 5 exceed the number allotted to fill the cap, then USCIS will conduct a lottery and only the “winners” in the lottery will be receipted. The losers will have their petitions returned to them and USCIS should return also your filing fees to you.
The deadline is fast approaching so make sure that your company is ready. If you miss the deadline, your employees will have to wait a full year to take advantage of an H-1B Visa. For more information on the H-1B Visa process, see our article by clicking here.
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