April 05, 2013, 4:22 PM — WASHINGTON - The H-1B visa caps have already been reached and the government will hold a lottery to distribute visas, federal officials said late today.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) said it had received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000-visa cap set aside for advanced degree graduates of U.S. universities.
The government started receiving petitions on Monday, April 1, and treats the first five days as one day. If the caps are exceeded at the end of the five days, a lottery is held.
The USCIS, as it has in the past, will use a "computer-generated selection process" to determine who will get a visa for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
The agency did not say how many visas it had received. In 2008, the last time the USCIS held a lottery, it had received 163,000 petitions within five days.
A lottery was expected. Immigration attorneys had been predicting it for weeks, and the government said in March that it expected the cap to met swiftly.
The USCIS processing facilities in Vermont and California received around 60,000 H-1B petitions on Monday.
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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