With all of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the H1B visa program, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that this year’s lottery proceeded as usual and applicants are waiting to see if they were selected. Given the fact that there are a total of 85,000 visas available for this year, and nearly 200,000 petitions, there is no guarantee of receiving an H1B visa.
Still, there are some ways to track the success of your petition and certain ways to know whether or not you have been selected in this year’s lottery.
Types of H1B Visa Selection Notice
All of the petitions entered into the lottery were confirmed the first week of April, but the process on selecting and informing applicants is not immediate. As any administrative task in government, the selection of H1B visas is limited by USCIS staff time and any complexities encountered that may present delays.
Both sponsors and foreign workers are anxious to know if they were one of the lucky ones, and there are four basic ways to be notified by the USCIS.
- The H1B visa petition check for the fees is cashed by the USCIS. Usually only the sponsor would know this since they are responsible for paying the fees. If a petition is not selected, the sponsor does not have to pay a fee, and the check will go uncashed.
- Master’s degree petitions may have a SEVIS record that has updated information on H1B visa status. If the record is not updated, this does not mean that you were not selected as it does take time in some cases.
- The USCIS notifies you in the mail. This is the best outcome obviously, since it is direct confirmation that you were selected.
- The USCIS announces that all H1B visa slots have been awarded, and you did not receive any type of notice.
These types of notices do not happen in any particular order of priority, and depend on the sponsor and any additional information or review required for the petition.
Timeline for Notifying H1B Visa Applicants
There is no set timeline for notifying applicants, and with the suspension of premium processing everyone must wait for the process to complete normally. However, the USCIS does update progress on the lottery as each step is finalized. As an example, last year’s data entry for petitions was completed on May 2nd, and unselected petitions returned by July 8th.
The bottom line is that until you receive either a receipt notice of approval in the mail or a rejected petition package returned, you are still a potential visa recipient. This could take up to two weeks after the final selection of petitions, so early August is probably the latest you would have to wait.
There is Still Time: Don’t Lose Hope
If you are still waiting to hear about the status of your visa, don’t lose hope. There is still plenty of time to be notified. In the meantime, you can ‘hedge’ your application by seeking a position with a cap exempt organization to give you a backup plan in case of rejection. Cap exempt jobs can be applied for at any time during the year, even while you are waiting for the result of your other H1B petition.
This is a more positive step than simply waiting anxiously, and if you are selected you can simply withdraw from your job search or any pending offers. Please contact us if you have questions about how to find cap exempt positions and sponsors.
- June 10th, 2017