Connecticut, US

Apr 11 2019

H-1B Advanced-Degree Quota Exemption Is Reached; USCIS Runs Cap Selection Lotteries

United States

At a glance

  • USCIS received 201,011 filings against the H-1B quotas – 10,913 more than last year.
  • The overall chance of selection in the cap lotteries for this year is approximately 42 percent.
  • USCIS could take up to several weeks to complete receipting of cap cases selected in the lottery, though employers who filed cases for premium processing should receive email receipts in the coming days. USCIS will not begin to adjudicate premium processed cases until May 20.

A closer look

USCIS has received enough cases to meet the FY 2020 H-1B quota and has completed the computerized selection process.

The agency received 201,011 filings between April 1 and April 5, 2019, an increase of 10,913 petitions, or 5.7 percent, over last year’s 190,098 filings. This year’s filing volume is the highest since 2016, when a record 236,000 filings were submitted for the FY 2017 H-1B cap.

On April 10,  USCIS ran two lotteries to choose the cases that will be processed to completion. The first lottery selected enough cases from the standard and advanced-degree filings to meet the standard quota of 65,000. Advanced-degree filings not selected in the first draw were placed in a second lottery to choose enough filings to meet the cap exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees.

This year, at least 42 percent of cap filings will be selected against the quota of 85,000, though USCIS typically accepts more than the annual quota to account for cases that are ultimately denied or withdrawn.  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.

What’s next: filing receipts and adjudication

Employers whose petitions are selected for processing should get filing receipts within weeks after the lotteries are run. Some employers have already begun to receive email filing receipts for premium processed cases, though USCIS will not begin adjudication of those cases until May 20, as previously announced. It could take several weeks or more for USCIS to complete initial data entry and issue filing receipts for petitions filed by regular processing.

USCIS should complete initial adjudication of premium cases by June 4. By this date, employers should receive an approval, request for evidence (RFE) or denial in their premium cases. If an RFE is issued, additional time will be required for a determination.

USCIS is expected to begin working on regular processed cases by early to mid-June.

If an adjudicator requires additional facts or documentation in a case, he or she will issue an 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 sooner the case can be processed to completion.

Cases not selected in the lottery will be returned to petitioners with their filing fees, but the timing of returns is not yet known. 

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.  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.