22:50 15 April in News Updates

Caps reached

USCIS received 201,011 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS announced on April 5 that it had received enough petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-1B regular cap of 65,000.    For a sense of how the filing numbers compare to prior years:  In FY2019, USCIS received 190,098 petitions; in FY2019, 199,000; in FY2017, 236,000.

Lottery conducted

On April 10, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process to select enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally-mandated regular cap and the U.S. advanced degree exemption for fiscal year (FY) 2020.

After completing the random selection process for the regular cap, USCIS also determined that it received a number of petitions projected as sufficient to meet the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap. 

New selection process

In accordance with the new H-1B regulation, USCIS first conducted the selection process for H-1B cap-subject petitions submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may have been eligible for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS then selected a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption from the remaining eligible petitions. 

Petitions selected in the lottery 

USCIS will issue receipt notices for petitions selected in the lottery.  Notifications will occur on a rolling basis; last year notifications were not complete until June.   This year, USCIS began to issue the first notifications for selected cases on April 11th.    LAC will notify employers and employees upon receipt of any correspondence related to their petition.  

Adjudication of petitions selected in the lottery – regular processing

Petitions selected in the lottery will proceed to adjudication. 

The current regular processing time for an H-1B adjudication is 9.5 to 12.5 months.   Regardless of the approval date, the earliest effective date for employment authorization will be October 1, 2019. 

Adjudication of petitions selected in the lottery – premium processing

On March 19th USCIS advised it would limit the premium processing option for cap cases to those which request a Change of Status.   On March 29th USCIS confirmed it would begin adjudication of FY2020 cap cases filed with a premium processing request on May 20th.   For selected petitions filed with a premium processing request, adjudication should therefore occur by June 3, 2019.   USCIS response within the 15-day premium processing window may be an approval, denial, or request for additional evidence. 

Petitions not selected in the lottery

After all lottery winners have been notified, USCIS will begin rejecting and returning all unselected petitions to the employer/ counsel.  LAC will promptly refund the filing fees for rejected petitions to the employer.  

H-1B petitions not subject to the cap

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.

Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, are exempt from the FY 2020 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position. 

LAC will notify applicants promptly upon receipt of case-specific information from USCIS.  We will also forward general updates as information becomes available.  Should you have any questions in the interim, please do not hesitate to contact your LAC attorney.

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