UPDATE (4/12/2019): The United States Citizen and Immigration Services officially announced on April 11, 2019 that the H-1B lottery was completed for fiscal year 2019-20. 201,011 petitions were received from the beginning of the season (April 1st) to the official completion date on April 5th, making this one of the largest H-1B pools since the beginning of the lottery. On April 11th, the computer-generation selection process picked at random the designated number of petitions to meet the cap.
The number of petitions received during the 2019-2020 H-1B season was significantly higher than the number of petitions received in the previous season (just over to 190,000). We have the full info on last year’s results as well as some information on your H-1B chances in 2020-2021 season in this post.
Under the regular cap, 65,000 petitions were selected in addition to 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption. Moving forward, USCIS will not longer be accepting petitions that are filed under the regular or advanced degree exemption cap until April 1st 2020.Cap-exempt petitions can be submitted at any time.
How the H-1B Lottery 2019-20 Process Worked
Here’s a brief overview of how the H-1B cap lottery functions.
- The computer generated selection process picked 65,000 from the entire pool of cap-subject petitions. Those that were not accepted and were eligible for the advanced degree exemption were transferred to the master’s cap pool for as second chance at selection.
- The second lottery selection picked 20,000 to meet the master’s H-1B cap.
- 6,800 spots were reserved for citizens of Singapore and Chile.
- Not all petitions are subject to the cap. Cap-exempt petitions are those that:
- Previously counted against the cap
- Are intended to extend or lengthen the H-1B worker’s time in the country (visa extension)
- Change the employment terms for current H-1B employees (i.e. location, responsibilities, duties, etc.)
- Transfer an H-1B status to a different employers
- Allow the worker to be employed in a second position
- Are filed by a sponsor who is cap-exempt, which is either an institute of higher education, a nonprofit organization associated with an institute of higher education, or a governmental research center.
Petitions received by USCIS between April 1st, 2019 and April 5th, 2019 had equal chances of selection in the lottery. This means that all petitions submitted within the given time frame were processed regardless of whether a petition was received on the 1st or the 5th. Submitting earlier does not increase your chances of being selected. However, master’s degree petitions are counted in both the advanced degree cap and the regular cap, raising the chances of selection.
H-1B Visa Lottery 2019-20 Important Dates
Petitioners can expect to find out about the results of the lottery selection in the weeks (35-40 days) after the lottery has been conducted. Those petitions that have been selected are to be sent to the adjudicating service center. Afterward, an EAC number will be issued to monitor the ongoing status.
Another way to determine whether your H-1B petition has been selected in the lottery is to look at your bank statement to see if the H-1B filing fee check was cashed by USCIS. In the event that it is cashed, be sure to make a note indicating the date.
April 1st, 2019 was the official filing date for petitions. It is important to note that any petitions submitted before this date or after the window was closed on April 5th, 2019 were rejected.
What if I wasn’t selected in the lottery?
If your petition is not selected in the lottery, USCIS will return your petition and filing fee unless determined to be a duplicate filing, in which case it will be returned without the fee.
What does wait-listed mean?
If your petition was marked as “wait-listed” that means it may replace a petition that was initially selected but later found to be ineligible or denied. The USCIS has confirmed that it selects more petitions than are given in the cap in anticipation of some being withdrawn or rejected.
H-1B 2019-2020 Chances of Selection
Since the USCIS did not specify how many advanced degree exemption petitions were received, it’s not possible to calculate exact percentages. However, based on the information we have received, here’s how it stands:
- For the 2019-2020 season, all petitions entered into the regular cap had a 32% chance of selection. This is based on 65,000 petitions selected from the 210,011 that were filed. Because the regular cap was conducted before the master’s cap this year, all cap-subject petitions were entered into this lottery.
- Of the remaining 136,011 petitions that were not selected in the regular cap, those that were eligible were entered into the master’s cap, where 20,000 were chosen.
Note that the actual chances will be lower because up to 6,800 visas are set aside for Chile and Singapore nationals based on the Free Trade Agreement.
2019-2020 Update: Master’s Cap Reversal
Through President Trump’s new Buy American and Hire American executive order, the USCIS has been empowered to make some radical changes to the H-1B process. One such change that has gone into effect for the 2020 cap is a reversal of the lottery cap order.
In previous years, the master’s cap was conducted first to select 20,000 petitions from the ones with master’s degrees. Then, the unselected petitions would be entered into the regular cap. This past year, however, the regular cap was conducted first followed by the master’s cap.
This effectively raised the percentage of master’s degree holders who were selected. Because the regular cap was conducted and included all cap-subject petitions, some of the master’s petitions were selected before ever reaching the master’s lottery. Then, all unselected master’s petitions were entered into the exclusive master’s cap, which had a smaller pool of petitions since some had already been selected.
Keep in mind that this rule is in effect indefinitely until further notice, so we can expect this same order to be implemented in the 2021 H-1B filing season.
2019-2020 Update: H-1B Pre-Registration
Another change that was put in motion but not put into effect yet is the pre-registration rule for the H-1B. This rule replaces petitions with registrations with the USCIS for the lottery. Essentially, rather than employers filing petitions to be entered into the lottery, they will instead register their beneficiary in the USCIS database. The service will then conduct the lottery using these registrations and select the winning beneficiaries. Those that are selected will have their employers file petitions along with filing fees and supporting evidence.
The USCIS is still in the process of testing this new system and has already implemented it. However, because testing is not complete, the system is suspended for the 2019-2020 filing season. We can, however, expect for this to take full effect in the 2021 filing season.
2019-2020 H-1B Under Trump
The President of the United States has taken a keen interest in the immigration policies surrounding nonimmigrant visas, especially the H-1B. While nothing is yet set in stone, President Trump is calling for several plans to be put in place to reduce the number of opportunities that people and companies have to abuse the system.
Some potential changes include both regular H-1B work site visits and a removal of the current H-1B lottery system in favor of a system that gives preference to foreign professionals that earn more income.
While these changes may not take effect for some time, it is important to keep them in mind when considering alternatives to the H-1B visa for the 2019 season.
If you believe that these changes may affect your H-1B results, then it is always best to consult an immigration attorney to plan ahead for your immigration future.
The Petition Filing Fees Were Changed in Recent Years
Two major changes – introduced in recent years – have greatly affected the H-1B filing fees for 2018-2019 and will affect the fees for future years. While these changes have been implemented for several years, we want to make sure that everyone is aware of the current filing fees. We will keep you up-to-date with the latest changes, but it is always a good idea to consult with your immigration lawyer to see how these changes affect your particular situation.
- As of December 23rd, 2016, the basic filing fee for the I-129 petition has gone up from last year’s $325 to this year’s $460.
- The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-113) raised the additional fee that must be paid by cehrtain employers from $2,000 to $4,000. This fee is only applicable to employers that have more than 50 employees, half of whom are working under H-1B visas.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
If you learn that you were not selected in the current H-1B lottery, your options are not over. Our immigration attorneys can offer additional options to begin the process for the next H-1B season or advise you whether or not a different visa may be suitable. For instance, we often have clients debating between an L-1 vs H-1B visa. If you find yourself in this situation it’s important to contact us immediately.
We have an excellent track record in complex H-1B cases including transfers and extensions for individuals as well as small businesses.
Immi-USA will report any new immigration developments as they arise. Stay tuned for an update on the current H-1B lottery season, coming soon! Contact us today to schedule your consultation.