USCIS Announces Centralized Procedure for Filing H1B Applications for Cap-Exempt Employers

Murali Bashyam

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new customer service initiative to streamline the adjudication of H-1B petitions. USCIS will employ a special unit dedicated to processing these types of H-1B cap exempt petitions at the USCIS California Service Center (CSC). Foreign nationals employed by certain types of educational, nonprofit or governmental organizations, as defined below (normally referred to as “cap exempt,” aliens employed by such entities are not subject to the H-1B numerical limitations). See section 214(g)(5)(a) and (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA); and 8 CFR 214.2 (h)(8)(A).

H-1B “cap exempt” petitions, as referenced here, include petitions filed by: 

                     Institutions of higher education, as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, 20 U.S.C. 1001(a);]
                     Nonprofit organizations or entities related to or affiliated with institutions of higher education; and
                     Nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations, as defined in 8 CFR 214.2(h)(19)(iii)c).
Such institutions and organizations can indicate that the H-1B filing is cap exempt by marking Form I-129 (Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker) with a “yes” answer to question 1, 2, or 3 in Part C of the H-1B Data Collection and Filing fee Exemption Supplement (page 10).
H-1B petitioners are now encouraged to use the following special mailing address for qualifying H-1B cap exempt petitions. To determine if your petition qualifies, please make sure your institution or organization fits one of the categories listed above.
For Direct Mail:
            U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
            California Service Center
            ATTN: CAP EXEMPT H-1B Processing Unit
            P.O. BOX 30040
            Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-3004
For non-United States Postal Service (USPS) deliveries (e.g. private couriers):
            U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
            California Service Center
            ATTN: CAP EXEMPT H-1B Processing Unit
            24000 Avila Road, Room 2312
            Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Each H-1B petitioner is encouraged to mark the outside of the envelope and the top margin of the I-129 form, with “EXEMPT”. This will ensure quick identification of the H-1B filing throughout the petition’s processing at CSC.
If a cap exempt H-1B petition is received at a different Service Center, that Service Center will expeditiously forward the petition to the CSC for processing. In the near future, USCIS will post special filing instructions to Form I-129 requiring all qualifying H-1B cap exempt petitions to be filed at the CSC.

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