USCIS intends to introduce changes to H-1B Visa Lottery

December 06, 2018
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a proposal regarding changing the selection of a number of H-1B visa petitions each year.


This requires employers to register online for getting selected randomly before submitting the visa petitions. It also aims to give visas to more people having an advanced degree obtained in the U.S. The agency proposes to introduce the new system in its final shape for the fiscal year 2020. Additionally, the filing deadline of the fiscal year is April 1, 2019. The rule will change the way of working of the H-1B application process dramatically.

USCIS intends to introduce changes to H-1B Visa Lottery

The H-1B program is a popular visa category which permits companies in the country to temporarily employ overseas workers having a specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree. Employers use it to obtain work authorization and it is available for many professional positions.

Visa details

The number of new visa cap granted through the program annually is 65,000. There is an extra 20,000 visa slots allocation for candidates graduating from a U.S. college/ university having a master's or higher degree. Owing to a great demand for H-1B visas USCIS conducts a lottery to allot the visas.

Employers now have to complete a lengthy application for the visas. In The proposed rule employers instead will have to submit an online registration form that is simple and free, for each prospective employee needing the visa.

The new rules intend to streamline the process for identifying and selecting H-1B beneficiaries. It is likely to reduce the cost for employers since appeals will not be filed except after the beneficiary are selected.

Lead to savings

As per an estimate employers can annually save between $47.3 million and $75.5 million after these changes. Ideally, it is better to raise the allocation cap in H-1B visas would and do away with the lottery.

The Proposed Application Process

Employers will get 30 days of advance notice prior to the beginning of the annual registration period. Companies must electronically register using the USCIS website. The form will also ask for basic information regarding the employer. There will be details of biographical information of the worker and regarding holding a U.S. advanced degree.

Employers will get 60 days from notification the selection of their registration. They can obtain a Labor Certification from the Department of Labor and prepare the H-1B petition. There will also be multiple filing periods so that submission of petitions happens in a smooth time frame.

Public comments

The 30-day comment period, for the public, will end on Jan 2, 2019. After this, the agency must analyze all comments prior to issuing the final rule.

Anyhow there is an uncertainty, whether the agency can rush through the process before the deadline.  Employers need to prepare cases as before and plan for the need to submit a full petitions and supporting evidence for each worker. Additionally, they have to identify and screen visa recipients for future eligibility before registration.

Favoring Advanced-Degree Holders 

The plan of USCIS is to reverse the order and increase the proportion of H-1B visas favoring advanced-degree holders from local U.S. schools.  This will improve the chances of candidates who have U.S. masters and higher degrees. Additionally, it will reduce the chances of others.

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