United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) released an official announcement indicating that they have received enough H-1B petitions to meet the H-1B FY 2023 cap. In this highly speculated announcements there will be no second round lottery for the H-1B visa. This sad new for many unlucky immigrants who applied and wanted to work in the U.S.
In this article we’ll go over why the second round lottery never took place and what an immigrant can now do if given a “not selected” status.
Why Is There No Second Round Lottery?
The biggest reason is application rate is at an all time high. With new recorded numbers of 483,927 applications. That’s a 57% increase from Fiscal Year 2022 308,613 applicants. We do know from those applications sent 127,600 where chosen for registration, and since the H-1B cap is limited to 85,000 each fiscal year, there was a large buffer between registrations and selected applicants. This buffer gave plenty registrants approval notice due to USCIS officials being able to deny, revoke, or ask to resubmit. In that previous year when too many cases where denied USCIS would not reach its goal for their H-1B cap.
Another reasons is USCIS recently allowed employers five days to fix any submitted mistakes on the H-1B application. Because of this there were less denials from the 42,000 buffer cause the cap to be reached.
What Happens Now If You Weren’t Selected?
If you were not one of the lucky selected applicants, don’t give up. You can still try to apply for an H-1B visa through other means if you qualify. Such as the H-1B visa lottery exemption for a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Chile or Singapore (E-3 visa), an advanced degree from a U.S. institution of higher education (EB2). You could also explore other visa options if you have a job offer from a U.S. employer, such as the O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement, the L-1A visa for intracompany transferees in managerial or executive positions, or the TN visa for Canadian and Mexican citizens in certain professional occupations. If you are currently on an F-1 student visa, you may be eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of your Optional Practical Training (OPT) under the STEM OPT program.
Will USCIS Still Continue Processing Petitions?
Yes! USCIS will continue to process “not selected” petitions and award visas on a first-come, first-served basis. When someone is chosen their status will change from “not selected” to “selected”. As USCIS does process the “not selected” petitions, since the numerical allocation has been reached updates from USCIS will sent out to the respective petitioner very shortly “we advised you check the status every Friday for the next three weeks”. If the status has not changed by September 30th then it’s unlikely that the petition will receive anything. October 1st is the beginning of fiscal year 2024 for USCIS which is important to remember for those who were selected and approved, meaning the visa change is now taken into effect.
How Could USCIS Lower The Application Rate?
Currently there is non-refundable $10 application fee requirement from USCIS per employer and per employee. One thing to note is that an employer can only file on behalf the employee one time each H-1B cap season. On the other side an employee can file multiple times with different current and prospective employers, leading to instances of one person applying over ten times for just a little over a hundred dollars. In addition to how low the application fee is, the ability as an employee to apply numerous times can lead to an exploitive visa with very high application rate and unfair advantages.
Raising the non-refundable application fee even to $100 dollars would alleviate many applications from being filed. We could see immigration reform happen in the upcoming mid-terms, but the Biden Administration has been historically know to not having employment based immigration as main issue of focus.
“The Biden has proposed immigration reform for US-Mexico relations which we’ve cover in a previous article, and can be checked out here.”
Vermont Service Center
USCIS also announced in June that certain H-1B petitions and fiscal year (FY) 2023 H-1B cap petitions were awaiting intake at the Vermont Service Center (VSC) and were being transferred to the California Service Center (CSC) for data entry and adjudication. USCIS had to transfer these cases in response to the H-1B receipt issuance delays at the VSC.
This workload transfer helped USCIS issue receipt notices for properly filed H-1B petitions more quickly. Allowing time for the CSC to process the transferred cases and not cause duplicated petitions out of concern that previous submission did not arrive or was misplaced. Petitions that were transferred, did not receive a transfer notice, but instead received a receipt notice as soon as the petition is receipted. Petitions were worked to completion at the CSC once transferred.
This H-1B cap update may come as a disappointment to many who were hoping for a second chance at obtaining an H-1B visa. But many will continue with their alternative approaches. The H-1B process may not be fair at times, but there’s always new opportunities for immigrants to become a U.S. citizens.