USCIS announced that the H-1B cap for fiscal year 2014 (FY 2014) has been reached. It received more than 20,000 petitions filed pursuant to the advanced degree (US master’s degree or higher) cap and more than 65,000 petitions filed pursuant to the bachelor’s degree cap. After today, it will not accept any more cap-subject petitions for FY 2014 (with a start date of October 1, 2014).
USCIS will now conduct a computerized random selection process (lottery) for all the cap-subject petitions received through April 5, 2013. First, it will subject the advanced degree petitions to the lottery and those that are not selected will be part of the bachelor’s degree lottery. USCIS has not announced a date on which it will announce the “winners” nor has it announced the precise number of petitions received.
USCIS will continue to accept cap-exempt H-1B petitions, such as those filed by institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations affiliated with institutions of higher education, and nonprofit and governmental research organizations. Also, most change-of-employer, extension and amendment petitions will not be subject to the cap and can be filed at any time during the year.
All hope is not lost for those subject to the cap. Some F-1 students with optional practical training (OPT) in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) may be able to extend their OPT by 17 months. There are also the L-1 intracompany transferee visas, E-1 and E-2 treaty trader and investor visas, O-1 extraordinary ability visas, P-1 entertainer/athlete visas, J-1 exchange visitor visas and a handful of other more obscure visas that may grant work authorization.