H1B Applications Start Date for Fiscal Year 2018

Yesterday, the USCIS announced that it will start accepting H1B applications on April 3rd for FY 2018. It means that any applications filed before that date will be rejected unless the occupation is cap-exempt. A quick look at the press release doesn’t show any major changes from last year.

Here are our main takeaways:

  • The cap for the number of visas (65,000) didn’t change.
  • 20,000 visas are available for those with US master’s degree or higher.
  • Premium processing is not available for 6 months starting April 3rd.
  • Form I-129 filing fee is $460.

The major change this year is the unavailability of premium processing. Thus, the USCIS will reject I-907 forms. It will also reject any payments that include both the filing fee and premium processing fee.

The USCIS also stated that it will not give a grace period for the applicants to fix dishonored payments.

While there were many speculations about major changes to the H1B process this year, it doesn’t seem like any took place. We reported earlier this year about the distribution of visa applications across companies.

The H1B Visa Lottery

If the number of H1B applications exceeds the cap, the USCIS holds a lottery to select the applications it will process and grant a visa to. The lottery is a computer generated random selection process. The USCIS runs the selection process on the advanced degrees applications first. If it meets the 20,000 cap, it puts the remaining advanced degrees applications in the same pool with the regular applications and runs the selection process once again to pick another 65,000. This process clearly favors applicants with advanced degrees.