Predicting the H1B cap lottery for 2016

Stars and StripesCurrently, the H-1B work visa cap is limited at 65,000 petitions per year, and an additional 20,000 petitions for those with a US master’s degree or higher. USCIS will accept fiscal year (FY) 2016 cap-subject petitions starting on April 1. In the scenario that more cases are filed within the first five business days of April than there are cap numbers available, USCIS will use a lottery to randomly select sufficient petitions to meet the cap.

For a brief history recap, the FY2013 cap was reached on June 11, 2012. The year after, the FY2014 cap was reached within the first five business days when a total of 124,000 H-1B visas were petitioned in that short time span. If that seemed like a high volume, an astonishing 172,000 petitions were filed during the first five business days of April 2015, a record high.

How these numbers have increased so significantly year after year is a testament to the growing demand for workers in the tech industry (an industry that files a large bulk of all H-1B petitions), among other potential factors.

To predict what will happen this year, we have to ask what has changed since last year’s H1B cap season. In 2014, more than 2.95 million jobs were created, the best year of job growth since 1999. This year, however, Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, says, “Job growth is strong, but slowing from the torrid pace of recent months.”

Additionally, with the provision of H4 employment authorization, many who are currently on H4 who would consider H-1B sponsorship are now choosing to stay in H4 status and apply for employment authorization instead. So one may expect that last year’s high will not be exceeded. However time will tell.

Readers who are interested in learning more about H-1B sponsorship may visit our website at where they may find our contact information.
Hasan Abdullah is Attorney at Law

Hasan Abdullah

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