USCIS Announces FY 2020 H-1B Cap Reached, Triggering Lottery

H-1B Cap

USCIS Announces FY 2020 H-1B Cap Reached, Triggering Lottery

Every year, many thousands of foreign professionals apply for consideration for a limited number of H-1B visas. The H-1B program provides both economic opportunity for international workers and innovative staffing support for companies throughout the United States (U.S.). Every April, the application window opens and companies submit their petitions via mail. (The USCIS will update this system in the coming years to allow for electronic registration and submission.)

The H-1B program allocates 65,000 standard visas and 20,000 “cap exemption” visas every year. Cap exemption visas provide additional opportunity for those H-1b applicants with advanced skills. The USCIS processes visas on a first-come, first-served basis unless applications reach or exceed the cap within five business days of April 1. When this occurs, a lottery triggers, and the USCIS chooses all applicants via a randomized process.

This article reviews the recent news surrounding the H-1B application process, including how quickly the annual cap was reached, how many petitions were received, and when the USCIS conducted the standard H-1B visa lottery.

Standard H-1B Cap Reached in 5 Days

This year, the H-1B application process received updates and changes via the Trump administration. It did not change the way that companies filed applications for FY 2020, but the agency will develop and enforce a new electronic system in upcoming years. And while applicants didn’t need to worry about any specific application alterations, the way H-1B lottery selection process did change (read more here). In short, the USCIS flipped the typical order of the lottery to provide more opportunity to the highly-skilled and educated cap exemption candidates.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported on April 5, 2019 that the standard H-1B cap was reached. This is not unusual. Since 2013, the applications surpassed the mandated H-1B cap within five business days. Further, the USCIS has conducted a lottery 9 times throughout the last 13 years! On April 10, 2019, the USCIS conducted the randomized computer lottery, choosing the H-1B candidates for both standard and cap exemption visas. All those that the USCIS did not select will receive rejection notices with their returned filing fees.

Petitions Increased From FY 2019 to FY 2020

Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 saw a notable increase in filings. A total of 201,011 H-1B petitions were submitted between April 1 and April 5 this year. Last year, petitioners only submitted 190,098 applications. The FY 2020 total represents a roughly 6% increase in H-1B petitions over FY 2019. Yet, despite increase in demand, annual allocations remain stagnant, limiting capacity for companies who rely heavily on H-1B visa beneficiaries.

Questions or Concerns?

The H-1B application process can be stressful and confusing. Companies large and small invest significant time preparing and submitting petitions, while foreign professionals must hope that the lottery chooses their application for consideration. If you have any questions regarding H-1B visas, your greatest ally is a qualified immigration attorney. Adequate legal counsel will help protect you from unnecessary mistakes and errors, ensure you submit all necessary documents on time, and protect your rights should an issue arise.

Nanthaveth & Associates is the premier Austin immigration law firm. Our team is professional, knowledgeable, and compassionate – we treat every client with respect and dignity. Further, our expert lawyers will passionately defend your rights and ensure you receive fair consideration no matter your immigration issue. And, for your comfort, we always provide free initial consultations. Contact us today to set up an appointment to speak with one of our qualified lawyers!