New US H1B visa lottery system results in wrongful denials

Sanwar Ali comment:

It is perhaps not surprising that there will be problems with the new H1B visa registration system.  This was brought in to deal with the huge demand for H1B visas and to fairly allocate the quota.  If you are successful you can then submit your full H1B visa application, which could of course be denied.

Due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic people may now be worried for their jobs.  If the economic downturn caused by coronavirus lasts there may be less need for an H1B visa lottery system next year.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) says it has received a number of reports of US H1B visa denials on the grounds of duplicate applications, even though applicants deny double submissions. According to AILA, the anomalies point to a glitch in the new, online H1B visa registration system launched by USCIS in March.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) classifies a duplicate submission as one that is made by the same sponsoring employer for the same H1B visa applicant. USCIS reported a record number of 275,000 employer registrations for H1B visa candidates, with 67.7% of filings made for Indian nationals.

Hundreds of refused H1B visa registrations

It has been reported that hundreds of H1B visa registrations have been incorrectly refused. The problem was first spotted on March 31, when applicants began to contact the AILA, stating that they had received a denial notification on the grounds of a duplicate submission.

The AILA said: “In particular, members report that the status for certain beneficiaries has been updated . . . to indicate that the status of the beneficiary is ‘denied’ . . . on the basis that a duplicate H1B registration was submitted by the same petitioner for the same beneficiary.”

The AILA has since contacted USCIS for a solution, but it seems the government agency has not yet offered a remedy. USCIS is now being urged to right the wrong, with one commentator saying: “Since it looks like this glitch is entirely due to an error in the USCIS system, USCIS has to provide some relief to the beneficiaries who never had a chance to be selected.”

USCIS has so far failed to acknowledge that there is a problem with the system, while other commentators have said there is clearly an issue and that the H1B visa lottery needs to be re-run.

USCIS praises new H1B visa registration system

On April 1, a USCIS press release praised itself and the new, H1B visa online registration system, saying: “The H1B electronic registration process was well-received by users, who provided a high satisfaction score with the system.”

Meanwhile, USCIS Deputy Director for Policy, Joseph Edlow, said: “This new registration system is one of many ways USCIS is improving the H1B program.”

The AILA has notified the Ombudsman at the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Service of the problem and is now asking its members to report individual cases to the Ombudsman in an effort to put pressure on USCIS to fix the issue.

Back in February, just prior to the launch of the new, online H1B visa registration system, AILA members raised concerns over potential glitches.

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