Immigration News: 2016 H-1B Cap Season Overview

As expected, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the numerical cap for this year’s H-1B lottery. USCIS announced on April 7, 2016, that it has received enough H-1B applications to reach the statutory cap of 65,000, and 20,000 for the advanced degree cap, also known as the master’s cap. USCIS reported the receipt of more than 236,000 H1B applications, compared to fewer than 233,000 applications filed last year. The USCIS is currently in the process of rejecting and returning filing fees for all unselected applications.

For those individuals that were not selected in this year’s H-1B lottery, there are still some back-up options that may enable you to remain in the US lawfully.

  • Consider going back to school (F-1 status) until you can file another H-1B application the following year. If you have a bachelor’s degree and decide to return to school for an advanced degree, you could qualify for another Optional Practical Training (OPT) upon the completion of your advanced degree.
  • If your degree falls under the STEM Category (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), discuss with your employer the possibility of a 24-month extension of your Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Explore the possibility of alternate visa options. For example, if your employer is a multi-national company where you have worked outside of the US for a period of time, you may qualify for the L-Visa. If you have exceptional credentials in your field, you may qualify for the O-1 visa. Also, if you are a Canadian or Mexican national, you may want to consider a TN Visa.

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