If your H-1B visa petition was among the 85,000 applications the U.S. government randomly selected yesterday for fiscal 2009, keep a close eye on your snail mail.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says it will be mailing out notices no later than June 2 to those petitioners whose "properly filed" H-1B visa applications have been selected to "continue to full adjudication."
That means employers should know by early June which H-1B visa candidates they'll be able to hire starting Oct. 1, providing the applicants make it through the next stages, which include background checks, before the U.S. State Department actually issues the visas.
Employers who paid USCIS an additional $1,000 "premium processing" fee to speed things up will be notified within 15 days, or by April 29, if their petitions were selected.
USCIS says it conducted two random computer-generated selections yesterday. The first lottery drawing was on petitions qualifying for the 20,000 master's or higher degree exemption. The second selection was on the remaining advanced degree petitions, combined with the general H-1B pool of petitions, for the 65,000 cap. USCIS received about 163,000 H-1B visa petitions between April 1 and April 7 that were eligible for the random selections. That 163,000 tally does not include petitions filed by nonprofits and institutes of higher learning seeking to hire H-1B visa candidates, says an USCIS spokeswoman.
Nonprofits and universities are among the category of employers not subjected to an annual H-1B cap. Those employers are able to file H-1B visa petitions throughout the year, she says.
In addition to the 85,000 petitions selected yesterday, USCIS also has a waiting list of an unspecified number of H-1B candidates who could possibly replace yesterday's randomly selected petitioners but are subsequently denied, withdrawn, or found ineligible for other reasons. USCIS will notify the wait-list petitioners by mail as well.
USCIS will return fees to petitioners who weren't chosen in the April 14 lottery and aren't on the wait list, as long at their petitions weren't among duplicate filings for the same candidate. USCIS last month issued an interim rule banning the filing of multiple petitions for the same person.