Under the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS has temporarily suspended many in person services; however, the service centers continue to accept and process petitions. The highly coveted H-1B visa is no exception to this.
In March, USCIS conducted a new registration process for the annual H-1B lottery. USCIS received 275,000 registrants for the 85,000 available H-1B visas, exceeding the 201,000 petitions it received the previous year. The overall odds for selection in the lottery this year were about 31%.
For those registrants selected in the lottery, USCIS is providing a 90-day filing window which started as early as April 1. Within this time period, the registrant must provide USCIS with a completed H-1B petition and supporting documents, including a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor. With state-by-state closures and other pandemic related restrictions, many companies are scrambling to assemble the necessary documents to complete these petitions in time.
For those not selected in the lottery, USCIS does intend to pull from the pool of remaining registrants throughout the summer. USCIS is mandated to fill the entire allotment of 85,000 available H-1B visas. For any initially selected registrants who withdraw their petition, who are unable to file within the filing window, or who receive a denial on the merits of their case, USCIS plans to fill that gap with the remaining registrant pool.
Once these petitions are assembled and filed, USCIS is expected to review the cases following standard processing procedures. Although Premium Processing Service is currently suspended, USCIS is expected to process these petitions so that the majority of them will be able to receive approval in time for an October 1 start date.
Our offices are currently open and assisting with the preparation of H-1B petitions for filing. If you have been selected in the lottery, please feel free to reach out to our office for assistance with filing your petition.
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