FY2020 H-1B Cap Demand Very Strong; Random Lottery Completed

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced that they have completed the intake and processing of all of the fiscal year (FY2020) H-1B cap petitions.   According to USCIS, there were over 201,011 H-1B cap petitions filed during the April 1st-5th filing period.  This indicates that the number of H-1B cap filings this year is slightly higher than the number of H-1B cap filings during last year’s cap season (190,098) and this confirms our expectations and observations for a very strong H-1B cap demand.   The H-1B cap lottery has also been completed.

USCIS announced that they have completed the computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select these petitions which would be reviewed to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption.     In accordance with the revised H-1B cap selection regulations, USCIS first conducted the selection process for H-1B cap-subject petitions submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may have been eligible for the advanced degree exemption.  Afterward, USCIS selected a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption from the remaining petitions.

This means that the chance of an H-1B petition to be selected under the random H-1B lottery is around 32% (slightly higher for US master’s degree or higher holders).

Next Steps and Timelines

Premium Processing Receipt Notices.  USCIS has been issuing receipt notices for cap cases which were filed with a request for premium processing and which were selected under the random lottery.    It appears that most, if not all, premium processing email receipts have already been issued.

Regular Processing Receipt Notices.  We expect that USCIS will immediately start issuing receipt notices for regular processing cases selected under the random lottery.   We should get receipt notices for selected regular processing cases issued within the next few weeks and hopefully by early to mid-May, USCIS will complete issuing the paper receipt notices indicating acceptance under the lottery for regular processing H-1B cap cases.

H-1B Lottery Rejection Notices.  The H-1B lottery rejection notices are likely to be processed afterward, and given the fact that there will be about 115,000 such rejection packages, we expect that rejection packages will be sent out in late May or even June.

H-1B Cap-Exempt Petitions Still Accepted

It should be noted that USCIS continues to accept cap-exempt H-1B petitions.  These are petitions generally filed by universities and non-profit research organizations (read more about cap-exempt employers).  Also, H-1B extensions and H-1B transfers and concurrent H-1B petitions for a second employer are cap-exempt and can be filed at any time and outside of the H-1B cap filing season.


The FY2020 H-1B cap numbers are not very surprising to our office based on the demand we saw during the January-March H-1B cap preparation period. The reasons for the high H-1B demand this year may be caused by the improving economy and also companies and candidates rushing to file H-1B applications under the current system before the administration implements any changes.

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