Your H-1B case has officially been filed. Your case will arrive at the USCIS Office on April 5th, 2019, the last day of the H-1B “cap” for the 2020 Fiscal Year. 

We know this process can be nerve-wracking, especially in today’s climate. As a law firm founded by immigrants, we truly understand and sympathize with the inevitable anxieties during this waiting period. Rest assured, you are our first point of contact and will be notified immediately should we receive any update on your case. If you have not heard from our offices, it is only because there has been no update on your case. 

In the meantime, we have answered some frequently asked questions below relating to your next steps while waiting for a response on your H-1B case. 

What should I expect once my H-1B case has been filed? 

Your case will arrive at the USCIS Office on April 5th, the last day of the “cap.” Assuming the USCIS receives enough cases to fill the cap, it will conduct a random lottery. 

What is the H-1B “Lottery”? 

As H-1B visas are limited in number, the demand generally outweighs the supply. Due to that imbalance, the government conducts a random computer-generated lottery to decide which cases will move forward for adjudication. For this year’s cap, the USCIS has reversed the order of selecting the H-1B cases by conducting regular lottery first and the Master’s lottery second. This will essentially give further preference to those with US Master’s (or higher) degree by increasing their chances of getting an H-1B cap number. There are approximately 65,000 new H-1B visas available and an additional 20,000 for those with U.S. Master’s degrees. 

What are my chances of getting chosen in the Lottery? 

Unfortunately, we do not know the answer to this question. The odds of getting selected depend on how many cases the USCIS receives during the cap period. In the last couple of years, there has been a one in three chance of getting selected, but this is not a clear indication of this year’s odds. 

How will I know if my case was selected for the Lottery? 

You will probably find out your case was selected for the Lottery in late May or June. Our office will receive a receipt notice from the USCIS, informing us whether or not the applicant has been chosen for the Lottery. Rest assured, we will notify you as soon as we get any news on your case. 

What if my case is selected in the Lottery? 

First of all, congratulations will first be in order! Second, it is important to note that getting selected in the lottery only gives you the opportunity to have the USCIS review and adjudicate your case. It is not a guaranteed approval. We have prepared the strongest case possible for you, but we cannot guarantee that the case will get approved. 

Can I file my case with “Premium Processing”? 

Premium processing is offered in two-phases this year. The first phase includes cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status. The USCIS will not begin premium processing for these petitions until the end of May 2019 but if your case falls in this category and you confirmed premium processing, we have concurrently filed a request for this service. 

The second phase will include all other cap-subject H-1B petitions. Premium processing requests could not be concurrently filed with these petitions, but we will submit requests once premium processing begins in June 2019. If your petition did not request a change of status and you would to upgrade your case to premium processing later, please let us know before June 2019. 

While I wait for a response about my case, can I travel abroad? 

If you are currently in the United States, please contact us before making any international travel plans. 

Please note that if you are in the States in another status (except F-1 “cap gap”) and that status expires before October 1st, you cannot remain here based on the pending H-1B visa. Please contact us before your status expires if this relates to you. If you are currently outside of the United States, or if you are just traveling within the United States, this does not apply to you. 

If my case is approved, how soon can I begin working? 

The earliest date that an H-1B cap case can take effect is October 1st, 2019, the start of the government’s fiscal year. While an H-1B case may be approved months ahead of that date, you cannot actually start working on your new H-1B until October 1st. If you want to work before that date, you must have other valid work authorization or valid student Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) cap gap (only if applicable). 

What if my H-1B case does not get selected in the Lottery? 

If your case does not get selected in the lottery, the government will refund all filing fees. We would recommend that you contact us to fully explore all other options to see if there might be any feasible alternative for you e.g. green card case, O-1 visa, startup parole for international entrepreneurs, E-2 visa. 

It’s been our pleasure working with you and we will keep you updated with any news we get. 

Disclaimer: This guide is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. 

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