H1B Application Changes

Posted on March 30, 2008 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Changes to the H1B Application Process

In previous articles we mentioned that H1B is one of the best choices for alien students who want to stay in the U.S. legally.  However, because of the H1B quota limitation, it is not easy to get H1B status.  Alien students with advanced degrees have an extra 20,000 visas available, which is one of advantages for this type of applicants.  Nevertheless, the USCIS made some changes on the H1B application process.  This article details the effect of these changes on H1B applicants, more specifically on those with advanced degrees.

The main change the USCIS made on the H1B application process was the lottery draw for the quota.  Last year the USCIS had to do a random selection of 65,000 applications (which correspond to the 2007 quota for H1B) received in the first two days because the H1B cap was reached and exceeded in one day.  However, the quota for those H1B applicants with higher degrees was not met until the end of April, so these applicants did not have to go through a lottery for visas.

This year, if the advanced degree quota is exceeded within the first 5 days applications are accepted, the USCIS will collect all the applications received during these 5 days and go through the following procedure: 1) select 20,000 applications where the applicant has an advanced degree to fill the advanced degree quota, 2) take the remaining unselected advanced degree applications and pool them with the regular H1B applications, and 3) select 65,000 applications from this pool to fill the regular H1B quota.  In other words, those applicants with advanced degrees will be excluded from the 65,000 quota at first, and then those that have not been selected will take part in the lottery for the 65,000 visas only when the 20,000 quota has been used up.

There are no significant benefits from the USCIS extending the application close date from 2 days to 5 days other than having a few more days to prepare your application.  The second change, however, is the one applicants should pay attention to.  This last change gives applicants with advanced degrees a “second chance” per say.  They first get a chance of being selected for the 20,000 quota that is specifically set apart for them.  Then, those who are not selected can take part in the 65,000 regular H1B quota.  This means that those who were not selected in the first round of the lottery still have chance to get selected for the quota during the second round.

For applicants who do not hold advanced degrees, the results from the first lottery will be very influential to their cases in terms of knowing their chances of getting selected during the second lottery.  Although it may not directly increase their chances of getting H1Bs approved, using the premium processing service to speed up the process is highly recommended in situations like this.

This article is only for your reference. Please do not apply mechanically to any exact cases. You are welcome to consult our attorneys at Liu & Associates, P.C. For contact information, please click here.