On Monday, USCIS announced that it is proposing to change the way the annual H1B lottery is conducted. (For background on how the process has worked up to this point, please see my older post here.) Here’s a breakdown of the new process:
- Employers wishing to file an H1B application will register online during the last half of March. To register, employers would provide basic information about the company, the specific employee they wish to hire, and the attorney who will be representing the company, if any.
- A random lottery would then be conducted to select applicants to fill the 58,200 spots available in the general H1B lottery.
- A second random lottery (the “master’s cap”) would then be conducted among all applicants who were not selected in the first lottery and who have advanced degrees from accredited US universities. An additional 20,000 spots would be allocated during this lottery.
- Lottery entrants would be notified electronically about selection, and would then have 60 days to file a complete H1B petition.
This process is different from the old process in two main ways:
- You no longer have to prepare a complete paper application and supporting documentation before knowing if you are going to make it through the lottery! This is a positive change that will save employers the significant amount of time and money currently wasted preparing H1B applications that will simply be returned to them after not getting selected in the lottery.
- The “master’s cap” lottery will now happen after the general lottery instead of before it. USCIS estimates that this will result in a 16% increase in the number of H1B holders who have advanced (as opposed to undergraduate) degrees.
It’s great that USCIS is considering eliminating the need for all applicants to prepare complete applications to simply enter the lottery. The timing of this announcement, however, has created a lot of uncertainty around the process for the 2019 cap season. Please check back tomorrow for a new post on the proposed timing for the rollout of the new system, as well as our recommendations and predictions for preparing for 2019 lottery filings.
If you have general questions on this topic, please leave a comment on this post and I will try to respond. Please note that I cannot respond to questions regarding the specific facts of your case on this blog, but I would be happy to discuss specific case questions with you over the phone or Skype! You can schedule a consultation here.