Virginia, US

Apr 12 2018

USCIS Receives 190,098 FY 2019 H-1B Cap Cases, Runs Selection Lotteries

United States

At a glance

USCIS received 8,902 fewer H-1B cap filings than last year. The overall chance of selection in the cap lotteries for this year is approximately 45 percent.


A closer look

USCIS received 190,098 FY 2019 H-1B cap petitions between April 2 and April 6, 2018, a decrease of 8,902 petitions, or 4.5 percent, from last year’s 199,000 filings. The record for H-1B cap submissions was in 2016, when 236,000 filings were submitted for the FY 2017 H-1B cap.

On April 11, the agency ran two lotteries to choose the cases that will be processed to completion. The first lottery selected enough cases to meet the cap exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees. The second lottery chose from the roughly 170,098 remaining cases, including those not selected in the advanced-degree lottery, to draw enough filings to fill the standard quota of 65,000. The number of advanced-degree cases filed with USCIS is not yet known.

This year, standard cap filings have roughly a 38 percent chance of selection in the lottery. The odds for advanced-degree cases are somewhat higher because these filings get a second chance for selection if they are not chosen in the initial lottery, but will not be known with certainty unless USCIS discloses the number of advanced-degree cases that were submitted. Last year, this statistic was not released. The overall chance of selection in the FY 2019 cap is approximately 45 percent.

What’s next: filing receipts and adjudication

Employers whose petitions are selected for cap processing should begin to get filing receipts in the coming days. Receipting could continue for several days or weeks after it begins. Receipts will be mailed to petitioners (or their attorneys) by regular mail. Cases not selected in the lottery will be returned to petitioners with their filing fees, but the timing of returns is not yet known. 

USCIS is expected to begin working on cap cases soon after they are receipted, but high filing volume, the suspension of premium processing through September 10, 2018, and a backlog of non-cap cases could mean lengthy H-1B cap processing times.

If an adjudicator requires additional facts or documentation in a case, he or she will issue a request for evidence (RFE). If your organization receives an RFE, your Fragomen team may ask you and the petition beneficiary to provide additional information to prepare a response. Working promptly with your Fragomen team can help minimize processing delays. The sooner your response is submitted, the greater the chance that your case can be decided in time for an October 1 H-1B employment start date. 

What this means for employers

Employers will not know how many of their cases were selected in the lottery until USCIS completes receipting, which could take weeks. Cases that were not chosen in the lotteries will be rejected and returned with their filing fees. 

Once receipting is completed, contact your Fragomen team for assistance in identifying alternatives for foreign nationals whose H-1B petitions were not selected in the cap lotteries.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.