The USCIS has started accepting H1B visa applications for 2013-2014 cap season on April 1, 2013. Due to stronger economy, the demand for H1B visas is much higher this year compared to the last 2-3 H1B cap seasons. USCIS will monitor the number of petitions received and post the latest cap count on its official website. The date on which the the H-1B cap is met is known as the final receipt date.

While USCIS has not released an official count yet, there is a possibility that it may receive more petitions than what 2014 H1B cap allows within first week. If that happens, USCIS will use a lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions sufficient to fill up the 2014 H1B cap. It will reject any cap-subject petitions that are not selected in the lottery.

ALL petitions received between April 1 and April 5, 2013 must be included in the lottery. According to USCIS regulation: 8 CFR §214.2(h)(8)(ii)(B):

“If the final receipt date is any of the first five business days on which petitions subject to the applicable numerical limit may be received (i.e., if the numerical limit is reached on any one of the first five business days that filings can be made), USCIS will randomly apply all of the numbers among the petitions received on any of those five business days, conducting the random selection among the petitions subject to the exemption under section 214(g)(5)(C) of the Act first.”

So an H1B petition received on April 1 2013 has the same chance of getting selected in the lottery as the one received on April 5, 2013.

If no lottery is required then USCIS will continue accepting petitions until the final receipt date but will reject any petitions received after that date.

The last time a lottery was used for H-1B cap-subject cases was in April 2008. Because of the recession and slow recovery, USCIS has not needed to use the lottery system to select petitions in recent H1B cap seasons.

More information on H-1B quota news was posted earlier in our article on H1B 2013-2014 cap count.