Centralized filing location for certain cap exempt H-1Bs

Effective starting February 2007, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will process cap exempt H-1B petitions at one centralized location – the California Service Center (CSC). USCIS will soon post special filing instructions to Form I-129 requiring all qualifying H-1B cap exempt petitions to be filed at the CSC.
Which petitions fall under this regulation?
Exempt petitions are those filed by employers like education institutes, nonprofit or governmental organizations, etc who are defined as “cap exempt,” by law and are not subjected to the H1B cap. USCIS has centralized filing location for H-1B “cap exempt” 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).

Which petitions do NOT fall under this regulation?

Not all cap exempt H-1B petitions are subjected the centralized filing, such as
-        Petitions exempt on account of petitioner holding U.S. Master’s degree or higher
-        Petitions exempt on account of requesting an extension of stay
-        Petitions exempt on account of requesting a change of employer
-        Petitions exempt on account of requesting an amendment

These of petitions, though “exempt” from the cap, will need to be filed in accordance with the filing charts on USCIS website and the Form I-129 instructions.

Where should these cap exempt petitions be filed?

Petitions falling under the above categories are to be filed at the following address

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

NOTE: Mark the outside of the envelope and the top margin of the I-129 form, with “EXEMPT.”
If a cap exempt H-1B petition is filed at a different Service Center, it will forwarded to the CSC. There is no fear of rejection here, only delay.

Since cap-exempt petitions can be filed at any time of the year, we advise employers to avoid filing during the month of April, which is when the regular H1Bs are filed, to avoid the rush and consequent delay that may occur.