On April 10, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) completed its random selection process, otherwise known as the H-1B lottery, to select enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally-mandated quota of H-1Bs for fiscal year (FY) 2020: 65,000 H-1Bs for foreign nationals with a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent education) from a U.S. or foreign college or university (“regular cap”), and a 20,000 exemption for foreign nationals with a graduate degree from a U.S. college or university (“master’s cap”).
USCIS will next begin the process of issuing receipt notices for selected H-1B petitions, followed by returning H-1B petitions not selected in the lottery, which could be a several week process.
Lottery process for FY 2020
In accordance with a new rule, which reverses the order in which H-1B petitions are selected in the lottery, USCIS first selected cap-petitions filed on behalf of all beneficiaries (regular cap and master’s cap) to meet the regular cap quota, followed by a second selection process to meet the 20,000 master’s cap exemption.
By reversing the selection process in this manner, USCIS believes a higher number of U.S. master’s degree or higher H-1B beneficiaries will be selected in comparison to years past.
USCIS has not yet implemented the rule’s pre-registration process, but is expected to do so in time for the FY 2021 H-1B Cap filing season (April 2020), meaning FY 2020 could be the last year in which employer’s need to file full and complete H-1B petitions for the lottery.
Change of status petitions and international travels
Beneficiaries who filed their H-1B requesting a “change of status” are reminded that departing the U.S. while the change of status is pending will result in an abandonment of the change of status request, and any international travel plans should first be discussed with immigration counsel.