U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced last week it had completed the lottery to select applications for the 65,000 regular cap and 20,000 more U.S. masters cap H-1B visas for the next fiscal year. From the start of the filing period on April 1 through April 10, 2014, approximately 172,000 petitions had been filed. Employers will either receive a receipt notice indicating they were selected, or their complete filing back in the mail. Due to the extreme shortage of visas allocated for this high demand classification, there will be many highly educated and skilled workers left wondering . . . now what?
If you are among those fifty percent of workers rejected solely due to the lack of visa availability, this may help you work through the next steps:
Check your status. It’s important for you to know what your current status is to ensure, if in the United States, you don’t overstay or fall out of status. For example, if you were counting on the automatic extension of your Optional Practical Training or F-1 student status known as “cap gap,” you will not receive that benefit if your application was not selected. Instead, you will have a grace period to remain in the U.S. for only sixty days.
Confirm your H-1B is cap-subject. It may be worth confirming your application is actually subject to the cap—the limit on the number of visas for the fiscal year. For example, employment at universities or affiliated or related organizations and at non-profit governmental research institutions is cap-exempt. Also, if you are already employed at one cap-exempt organization, you may be able to work at cap-subject employer concurrently with a second petition.
(Re)consider other options. There are many nonimmigrant (temporary) and immigrant (resulting in lawful permanent residency) categories that may apply to you, or could with some ingenuity or long-term planning. This blog will touch upon a few, and will be followed with a second part and more options.