H1B Lottery: Understanding Case Selection

Immediately after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the need for a random lottery of H1B cap-subject filings, the Murthy Law Firm began receiving questions asking when H1B filers would know if their cases were selected for processing. Following is an explanation of that important topic.

Background: Odds of Selection

As regular readers of MurthyDotCom know by now, the USCIS received approximately 124,000 cap-subject H1B cases during the first five days of April. This volume exceeds both the limit of 65,000 for the regular cap, and the limit of 20,000 for the advanced-degree (or “master’s cap”) exemptions. Thus, as readers learned in our NewsBrief posted April 8, 2013, H1B Cap Reached in First Week: 124, 000 H1B Petitions Filed, the USCIS conducted a lottery on April 7, 2013 to select the cases that will be processed for the fiscal year 2014 (FY14) H1B cap.

Premium Processing eMail Receipt Notices

The Murthy Law Firm began receiving receipt notices via eMail for H1B cases filed using the Premium Processing service on April 9, 2013. Other immigration attorneys have reported the same experience. As of this writing, we continue to receive eMail receipts on additional cap-subject Premium Processing cases. It should be noted that the USCIS will not begin processing such cases under the 15-day premium-processing timeline until April 15, 2013. The wording on some receipts from the Vermont Service Center, which reference adjudication within 15-calendar days of receipt, is incorrect.

Cashed Checks

One of the first things the USCIS does after receiving a case is to process the filing fees. This is done electronically. Thus, employers may be able to confirm that their cases have been selected in the lottery by checking their bank accounts to see if the filing fee checks have been cashed. The USCIS does not cash the filing fee checks for the cases that have not been selected in the lottery.

Hard Copy Receipt Notices

The USCIS will issue hard copy receipt notices for all H1B cases. These are sent via ordinary U.S. mail and generally take several weeks for delivery, but may take longer in light of the volume of cap filings. Receipt notices are only issued for cases that have been selected in the lottery for further processing.

Returned Packets

If a case is not selected in the H1B cap lottery, it will be returned to the employer or employer’s representative. The USCIS returns the entire filing, including all forms and supporting documents, and the filing fee checks. These packages are returned by ordinary U.S. mail and generally take a few weeks for processing and delivery.


We know that this is a very tense time for those that are waiting to learn the fate of their H1B filings. We at the Murthy Law Firm will continue to provide information regarding H1B cap issues to our readers.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.