Each year, October 1 is the date the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services begins its fiscal year cycle. It is for this reason that visas applied for in April of each year become valid on or after October 1. By way of example, a U.S. company submits a petition to sponsor an H-1B nonimmigrant worker on April 1, 2014. On May 28, 2014, USCIS issues an I-797 Notice of Action providing a determination on the H-1B Petition. The Notice of Action provides a receipt number associated with this specific beneficiary’s case. It also provides a receipt date of April 9, 2014, in this example, and a notice date of May 28, 2014, in this example. The receipt date corresponds to the date the petition was selected in the H-1B visa lottery and entered into the visa processing queue. The notice date represents the date a determination was made on the case by a CIS Officer.
A petition can be rejected, denied or approved. If the petition is rejected, the petition and all supporting documentation is returned along with any fees submitted by the employer and beneficiary. Normally, a petition is rejected either because it was not selected in the visa lottery or because the petition, on its face, did not substantially comply with submission requirements, such as failure to provide a fee payment or failure to complete the petition in its entirety. A petition is denied because substantively the petition was deficient in some manner. Common deficiencies include failure to establish an employer-employee relationship, failure to prove that the occupation can be classified as a specialty occupation, or failure to demonstrate that the beneficiary is qualified to fulfill the duties of the position.