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USCIS will roll out new H-1B lottery system starting March 1, 2020

On December 6, 2019 USCIS announced it will definitely implement the new H-1B lottery system for H-1B cases filed in 2020. The lottery applies to petitions subject to the annual H-1B cap. There are a total of 85,000 new H-1B petitions available each year for persons who have not previously held H-1B status. In 2019, more than 200,000 people applied for these 85,000 available H-1B numbers. USCIS holds a random lottery to decide which petitions will be accepted.

In the past, petitioners have had to submit complete petitions to compete in the lottery. Petitions that were not selected were mailed back to the petitioner. Under the new system, employers will register on a USCIS web site beginning March 1, 2020 and ending March 20, 2020. Employers will list the names of the persons they want to petition for. There will be a $10 fee for registration for each beneficiary. Only employers can register on the website. Beneficiaries cannot register for themselves.

After registration closes March 20, USCIS will hold a random lottery to select beneficiaries. The employer will then have 90 days to submit a complete H-1B petition. Selection in the lottery does not guarantee the petition will be approved. All H-1B requirements must still be met. For more information, see our webpage H1Bs in a Nutshell.

The advantage of this new system is that employers will not need to go to the time and expense of preparing complete petitions until they know the petitions have been selected. USCIS will not have to process and return tens of thousands of petitions that were not selected.

Allen & Hodgman has many years of successful experience handling H-1B petitions for a wide range of occupations, including IT professionals, engineers, medical professionals and many others. For the 2020 lottery we will work with employers to register qualifying beneficiaries for the lottery without charge. We will charge a fee only if the beneficiary is selected in the lottery. Email us now for help with your 2020 petition or call us at (216) 593-0180 (Eastern time).