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On May 2, 2016, USCIS Announced Data Entry Completion for FY 2017 H-1B Petitions

How to Know if a Case was Chosen in the H-1B Lottery

Yesterday, USCIS announced that all fiscal year 2017 Cap-subject H-1B petitions randomly selected in the computer-generated lottery have been “data entered”. This means that in the coming weeks, USCIS will begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not randomly selected in the lottery. Because there were 236,000 H-1B Lottery Applications this year, a significant percentage of employers will be receiving their H-1B petitions with filing fees back. Because of the high number of filings. USCIS did not provide a definite time for the return of these petitions. If last year is any guide, petitions not chosen in the lottery were returned as late as mid-June.

The announcement does not necessarily mean that if a receipt notice has not yet been received, the case was definitely not selected in the lottery. It may still take several days for receipt notices to be returned through the mail, as they are being sent from the Vermont and California Service Centers to employers throughout the country. Last year, we received receipt notices for cases as late as May 11th. However, if a filing fee check has not yet been deposited, this can be construed as a strong indication that the case was not selected in the lottery.

Employers whose H-1B petition was selected in the lottery have the option of upgrading their petition to Premium Processing by filing Form I-907. Upgrading the petition means that USCIS will generally issue a response in the case within 15 days of receipt.

Options Other Than the H-1B Visa

Would-be applicants not chosen in this year’s H-1B lottery have several options to consider. Some are still maintaining their F-1 OPT status and can continue doing do. STEM graduates can now avail of up to 36 months of post-completion OPT work status. Others will continue on to further F-1 academic pursuits. Entrepreneurs seeking to open a business might consider their eligibility under the E-2, E-1, EB-5 or L-1 visas. Immigrants with extraordinary background in their chosen field might consider an O-1 visa. (An earlier article about related visa options is available here).

For assistance with H-1B nonimmigrant visa petitions or any related business immigration issues, contact Board Certified U.S. Immigration Specialist Attorney Jeff Khurgel by email at: or by calling 949-509-6515.

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