It’s February 1, 2021, USCIS has not provided final instructions on this year’s H-1B lottery yet. USCIS has proposed and published a few rules on H-1B in the last 90 days. Some of these rules are expected to be put on hold by the Biden Administration, and others may be rescinded all together. As such, there are some uncertainties about the H-1B lottery, and the adjudication process this year. We anticipate that USCIS will publish final guidance shortly. Meanwhile, based on experience from last year, we can reasonably expect the process to go like this:
- March 1 to March 20: Enroll the H-1B applicant in the lottery system
- On April 1, USCIS will notify the winners of the H-1B lottery by email
- We will have 60 days to prepare and submit the H-1B petition for those who have been selected. USCIS will then review these cases and adjudicate them on the merit.
- If the H-1B is approved, it will have a start date of Oct 1, 2021, and it will be for 3 years.
- We do not know whether premium processing is allowed. In past years, USCIS did not allow premium processing for the H-1B lottery and related applications.
What to do next?
For employees who want to enroll in the lottery, we recommend that you discuss your plans with your employers to seek their support. Your employer may have questions about the process and costs, and it may take time to finalize the authorization. As such, you probably want to start right away.
For employers, we recommend that you identify who may need to enroll in the H-1B lottery ASAP. These teammates may include but not limited to:
- F1 student working on OPT EAD
- Spouses non-immigrants with work permit, who nonetheless want to obtain H-1B
- Teammates who are on other work status (such as TN, L1, etc.) who may need to get on H-1B status for legitimate reasons, such as starting the green card process.
- Teammates who may be outside of the U.S. who will need H-1B
Good luck with this year’s H-1B lottery. If you have any question, please don’t hesitate to contact me.