US agency conducts H-1B visa lottery for 2 lakh applications

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US agency conducts H-1B visa lottery for 2 lakh applications

NEW DELHI: The number of applications for the H-1B visa has risen slightly over last year, by a little over 10,000 to close at 2.01 lakh for the current season 2019-20 (fiscal year 2020). The date for accepting applications had commenced on April 1. The H-1B visas are relied upon heavily by the Indian tech sector for servicing clients in the US.

The last two years had shown a slight decline in the number of applications. The rise now reflected, even if minuscule, shows that despite the restrictive policies of the Trump administration, interest in this work visa has not waned, even though large Indian tech companies have over the past few years had ramped up hiring of locals in the US.

For the fiscal 2020 season, which would permit successful visa beneficiaries to work in the US earliest from October 1, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 2.01 lakh applications, a slight rise of 5%, as against 1.90 lakh applications last season. This was disclosed by the USCIS in a release issued late night on April 11.

On April 5, the agency had announced that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B cap applications to reach the annual ‘regular’ quota of 65,000. It had also announced that USCIS would determine if it had received a sufficient number of applications to meet the masters’ cap.

Annually only 65,000 visas are allotted under the regular cap (also known as general quota) and an additional 20,000 visas under the master’s cap (for those having an advanced degree from US universities). For last filing season, which had closed on April 6, 2018, USCIS had later announced that it had got 95,885 applications which were eligible for Masters cap. It has not yet disclosed this figure for the current season.

“This year, at least 42% of cap filings will be selected against the quota of 85,000, though USCIS typically accepts more than the annual quota to account for cases that are ultimately denied or withdrawn. The odds for advanced-degree cases are somewhat higher because these filings get a second chance for selection if they are not chosen in the initial lottery,” states Fragomen, a global firm specialising in immigration laws.

This is the first lottery, that has been subject to the reversal process announced by the USCIS on January 30, meant to give those with a US masters’ (or higher degree) a better chance of winning the lottery. This means, USCIS first conducted the selection process for all H-1B cap applications, including those that may have been eligible for the masters’ cap. Then, it conducted a selection for those eligible for masters’ cap.

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