FY 2020 H-1B Visa Lottery Cap Limits Reached on Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The United States FY 2020 H-1B visa lottery cap limits reached its regular and advanced degree exemption limits on April 10, 2019. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had used a computer-generated random selection process to select petitions. The USCIS received 201,011 petitions during the filing period which started on April 1. This figure is 5.7% higher than the 190,098 petitions that were submitted to the FY 2019 lottery.

How Many Petitions Were Filed Subject to the Lottery Cap Limits?

For FY 2020, the USCIS:

  • Starting April 1, received 201,011 H-1B Petitions
  • On April 5, announced it had received enough petitions to reach the H-1B 65,000 cap limit

The computer-generated random selection process followed the new process that USCIS implemented for FY 2020. Most importantly, this visa lottery process reverses the order that USCIS uses to select H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption.

What are the New Lottery Process and Lottery Cap Limits?

The USCIS changed the lottery process effective April 1, 2019. The steps in the FY 2020 lottery process followed this pattern:

  1. The first lottery includes all petitions and is subject to the 65,000 cap limit
  2. Once the first lottery reaches the 65,000 cap limit, the remainder are eligible for the 20,000 visas for applicants with advanced degrees from US educational institutions

What Happens to Petitions Not Selected Under the Lottery Cap Limits?

If the USCIS does not select a petition, it rejects the petition and returns it along with the filing fee. However, if the USCIS determines the petition is a “prohibited multiple filing,” the USCIS may issue a notice to deny or an intent to revoke each petition. Prohibited multiple filings fall under the regulation that prohibits an employer (or related entities) from filing in the same year more than one H-1B petition on behalf of the same beneficiary.

Can Petitions Not Subject to the Lottery Cap Limits Still Be Submitted?

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are not subject to the lottery cap limits. This includes those petitions filed for current H-1B workers who were previously counted against the lottery cap limits. As a result, these petitions:

  • Retain their cap number
  • Remain exempt from the FY 2020 H-1B lottery cap limits

Also, USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that petitioners file to:

  • Allow a current H-1B worker to change their employer
  • Allow a current H-1B worker to work in a second H-1B position at the same time as their first H-1B position
  • Alter the terms of employment for a current H-1B worker
  • Extend the length of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States

What Should Employers do if Petitions are not Chosen for the Lottery Cap Limits?

Employers have a few options for petitions that USCIS does not select through the lottery process:

  1. Wait until next year’s lottery
  2. Consider an alternative visa for the foreign national, subject to qualification

Alternative visa options may include some of the following, depending on situations and qualifications:

  1. Cap-Exempt H-1B
  2. B-1
  3. O-1
  4. P-1
  5. L-1
  6. TN
  7. E-1/E-2
  8. F-1 OPT/F-1 CPT
  9. Permanent Residency/Green Card without H-1B Visa

What Should Employers do?

Global Mobility Solutions has a team of global relocation experts who can help you with alternatives to H-1B visas. Our team’s knowledge and access to visa and immigration resources is unparalleled in the industry. As a result, we have helped thousands of companies with the H-1B visa lottery process reach successful results within the program’s lottery cap limits and with alternative visas.


Global Mobility Solutions’ team of global relocation experts has helped thousands of our clients manage their H-1B visa lottery petitions. Therefore, our team can help your company understand the process and pursue alternative visas for petitions not chosen under the lottery cap limits.

GMS was the first relocation company to register as a .com. The company also created the first online interactive tools and calculators, and revolutionized the entire relocation industry. GMS continues to set the industry pace as the pioneer in innovation and technology solutions with its proprietary MyRelocation™ technology platform.

Global Mobility Solutions is proud to be named and ranked #1 Overall, and #1 in Quality of Service by HRO Today’s 2019 Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Contact our experts online to discuss your H-1B and alternative visa needs resulting from lottery cap limits, or give us a call at 800.617.1904 or 480.922.0700 today.

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