H-1B Petition 2020 Filing Period Open

USCIS is now accepting H-1B cap petitions on behalf of selected beneficiaries. The filing period will be open until at least June 30, 2020.

On opening the H1-B visa window on April 1, USCIS advised that nearly 275,000 applicants registered for the H-1B lottery between March 1 and March 20, 2020.

The overall chance of selection for FY 2021 H-1B cap employment is approximately 31%. 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. Approximately 126,500 (46%) of prospective beneficiaries (46%) held advanced degrees US institutions of higher education. 68% of applicants were from India and 13% were from China (13.2%).

This was a 37% increase on the previous year’s filing season, likely due to the new electronic registration system, which eases the burden on employers to prepare an entire case only to have it rejected in the lottery system.

USCIS is understood to be receipting and adjudicating H-1B cap petitions as they are received during the filing period.

Though in most cases a cap petition can be filed at any point during the filing period, some cases may need to be filed at specific times. If the beneficiary is an F-1 student working on optional practical training (OPT) who will need cap-gap protection, the petition must be filed before their OPT employment authorization document expires. If the beneficiary is awaiting completion or award of a required degree, the petition must not be filed until the degree has been issued or the beneficiary has obtained documentation from the appropriate school official that degree requirements have been satisfied.

Impact of COVID-19 emergency on H-1B processing 

USCIS has temporarily suspended premium processing of all I-129 and I-140 petitions, including cap cases, due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In light of the emergency, USCIS is accepting I-129 petitions, including H-1B cap petitions, with reproduced original signatures. For forms that require an original “wet” signature, per form instructions, USCIS will accept reproduced original signatures for the duration of the National Emergency. This temporary change only applies to signatures. Individuals or entities that submit documents bearing a reproduced original signature must also retain copies of the original documents containing the “wet” signature. USCIS may, at any time, request the original documents, which if not produced, could negatively impact the adjudication of the immigration benefit.

Because the COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly, employers should be prepared for delays and other impacts on case processing in the weeks ahead.

US immigration advice

NNU Immigration is actively monitoring the impact of the pandemic on US immigration policy and application processing.

As the situation continues to develop, please contact our US immigration specialists for the latest advice for your specific circumstances.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

Last updated: 1 April 2020