USCIS finishes lottery selection for 85,000 H-1B visas

Total of 172,000 applications received this year.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 172,000 applications for H-1B visas during this year’s application period, and has completed its lottery selection of the 85,000 pool applicants that will receive the visa.

The USCIS announced on Thursday that the “computer-generated random selection process” has already been carried out, with the 20,000 applications filed under the advanced-degree exemption program having been selected first. These H-1B visas are given to students from other countries coming to the US to obtain either a master’s degree or Ph.D. All applicants from that pool who were not selected became a part of the general applicant pool, at which point 65,000 applications were randomly selected to receive H-1B visas this year.

According to the USCIS press release, “For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing.” Petitions previously filed for current H-1B workers, who do not count against the cap, will still be processed, as will petitions that seek to extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States, change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers, allow current H-1B workers to change employers, and allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

The USCIS also re-iterated that premium procession of H-1B visas this year would begin no later than April 28, echoing an announcement they made late last month, before the application window opened. Premium processing allows for expedited processing of visa paperwork over a guaranteed time-frame of 15 days.

The H-1B visa — the most popular type of visa used by foreigners coming to the US for temporary jobs — is used by businesses mainly to import highly skilled workers from countries around the world, and many of them come from India. This year’s cap was reached in just five days, equaling the record set in 2013 for the shortest amount of time taken to reach the strict quota. USCIS regulations state that once the quota is met and exceeded, all applications, regardless of when they were filed, will enter into a lottery system.

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