USCIS can issue only 85,000 new H1B visas each year, but hundreds of thousands of applicants would like to take those slots. To decide which applications will be considered, USCIS runs a random lottery every Spring. This year, the lottery process will be dramatically different than it has been in prior years. (Are you already tire of reading this? Schedule a quick, free lottery consultation with us and we’ll take care of the details for you.)
Here’s what the new process will look like:
- Employers enter H1B candidates in an online registration system between March 1 and March 20, 2020. (Employers will be required to affirm that they have a good faith intention to file an H1B petition for the employee if selected in the lottery.)
- USCIS will randomly select enough applicants to fill the 65,000 general H1B slots available.
- USCIS will then create a second lottery pool consisting of applicants who a) were not selected during the first round lottery, and b) have an advanced degree (Masters or higher) from a US university. They will randomly select enough applicants from this pool to fill the 20,000 H1B slots reserved for people with advanced degree from US universities.
- USCIS will announce the results of the lottery no later than March 31, 2020.
- Selected applicants will then have 90 days to prepare and file a full H1B application. Applications may not be submitted prior to April 1.
- USCIS will approve or deny these applications based on their merits.
- Approved applicants will be able to start working in H1B status on October 1, 2020. (Or as soon as the application is approved if it’s still pending on October 1.)
Want help making sure your registration is filed correctly? Check out our case evaluation and lottery registration package for the March 2020 registration window.
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