According to a recent study, the odds of winning a Powerball jackpot is 1 in 175,223,510. The odds of an amateur golfer making a hole in one on a par-3 hole are 1 in 12,500. Compared to these extremely unlikely events, the recently completed H-1B lottery presents a more optimistic picture. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it received nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. On April 13th, USCIS completed the lottery to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. The odds of having been selected are just over 1 in 4, bad news for the nearly 75% of applicants who did not have luck on their side. While we eagerly await a reform of our immigration system and an increase in the artificially low cap of 65,000, here’s what H-1B applicants can now expect now that the lottery is completed: applicants can expect to receive either a Form I-797 Receipt Notice (if successful in the lottery) or a notice of rejection, along with their unselected petition with filing fees. Petitions filed via Premium Processing have already started receiving electronic receipt notices if successful in the lottery; these petitions will receive a response within fifteen days of the receipt date noted on the official I-797 receipt notice. Successful petitions filed via regular processing will begin receiving receipt notices within four to six weeks, and a USCIS response within five to six months.
As we noted last week, USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. And again, we urge applicants and employers to contact immigration counsel if your petition is not successful in the lottery. There are often options that employers or foreign nationals have not considered or been aware of. HRLegalist will continue to monitor the H-1B cap process and report on developments. Stay tuned, and in the meantime you may want to try your hand at golf.