Published April 14, 2020

By: Richard Hanus, Esq.

By the end of last March, US Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services completed its selection of 85,000 lucky registrants for the H-1B visa lottery.  Employers submitted a total of 275,000 electronic registrations during a 3 week period last month to claim from the supply of 85,000 visas.  Except for a very small percentage of registrations now in question, the process was mainly a success.  Selected registrants now have the go ahead, and a 90 day window, to file H-1B visa petitions, for workers to commence employment on October 1, 2020, the first date of the coming 2021 fiscal year.

For those registrations not selected at this point, all hope is not lost, since the possibility of still being selected this year exists.  More specifically, the feedback US CIS has provided to H-1B registrants so far has been one of three messages: 1) selected, 2) submitted (still pending) or 3) denied.

For the second group, the possibility of being selected for the coming year remains alive, since some, if not many, selected registrants may end up not moving forward with petitions in the coming 90 day period as a result of the uncertain economic times.  For this still pending group of registrants, it is not certain when notifications will be issued giving green lights to the filing of H-1B visa petitions or alternatively, advising that they are out of luck for the current fiscal year.

As far as petitions in the “denied” category are concerned, one reason at play, according to the US CIS website, was the fact that the denied registration was part of a duplicate filing, and therefore in violation of the rule forbidding more than a single petition for each employer/employee combination.  In other cases, there was a shortcoming in the registrant’s method of paying the $10.00 registration fee.

In recent weeks however, it has come to light that more than 150 registrations may have been improperly denied as duplicates and through no fault of the registering employer.  So far US CIS has denied responsibility and asserts that such claims are mistaken.

According to a US CIS’ official account, just short of 275,000 registrations were received and comprised the pool of registrants considered as part of a random selection process.  Approximately 900 of those registrants were disqualified as duplicate submissions, per US CIS’ records.  Further, according to US CIS, “Of the nearly 40,000 registration accounts created, 346 of them were responsible for all the duplicate submissions – less than one percent of users.  This data shows that the vast majority of registrants followed the instructions USCIS provided through our numerous stakeholder engagements and the comprehensive information we made widely available to the public”.

From the perspective of US CIS, none of the denials issued were issued improperly or due to technical error on the part of their agency.  Advocacy efforts to have the 150+ allegedly wrongfully denied registrations reconsidered in a further lottery have so far been unsuccessful.

PUBLISHED April 14, 2020– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2020, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois