Sanwar Ali comment:
Usually the H1B visa quota is heavily oversubscribed and there is a lottery for the available 85,000 visas. This means the likelihood of obtaining a cap subject H1B visa is low.
If you have a Masters degree from the US it may be a bit more likely that you will obtain an H1B visa. However, still more likely than not that you will not receive an H1B visa. With the coronavirus situation and the worsening job market in the US will some employer decide not to proceed further with their H1B visa applications, even after winning under the lottery scheme?
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that its initial H1B visa selection process for the 2021 fiscal year has been completed. USCIS said it has received enough requests from businesses and corporations for H1B visas, which are capped at 65,000 per year, with a further 20,000 issued to applicants with master’s degrees or higher.
The US government agency said that correctly filed registrations had been selected from at random and successful applicants, along with their companies, would be notified before March 31. Successful registrants will now have until June 30 to submit an H1B visa application.
85,000 H1B visas are issued each year, divided between regular applicants and applicants with a master’s degree or higher from a US university. 65,000 are allocated to regular applicants, while 20,000 are reserved for master’s degree holders or higher.
USCIS suspends in-person visa services amid coronavirus
USCIS temporarily suspended all in-person services on March 18, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The government agency plans to re-open its offices from April 7, provided that public closures are not extended beyond this date.
Despite the suspension of in-person services due to coronavirus, USCIS continues to process visa applications, where possible, and provide other services that do not require contact with people. The agency has said that it will continue to provide emergency services in very limited circumstances.
Meanwhile, unrelated to coronavirus, USCIS has also suspended premium processing for H1B visa applications. Every year since 2017, USCIS has temporarily suspended premium processing, a move that the agency says ‘will help to reduce H1B visa processing times overall.’
USCIS has confirmed that until premium processing resumes for the 2021 fiscal year, it will reject any form simultaneously filed with a H1B Form I-129.
Non-US workers seek visa extensions
With US visa processing delays expected, many non-American workers fear immigration enforcement should their current visas expire while their extension applications are processed.
New H1B visa online registration system
On March 1, USCIS launched its new, online H1B visa cap registration system for employers. The new system will reportedly make it faster and cheaper for employers to file an H1B visa application under the new lottery system, paying a $10 fee to use the service.
Coronavirus causing visa processing delays
With a number of US immigration services affected by the coronavirus pandemic, officials have warned visa applicants to expect a backlog and potential delays.
Meanwhile, Trump has moved to reassure non-US nationals with visas set to expire or currently being processed, that they will face no immigration enforcement. However, many US immigrants have recently been cut off from a coronavirus relief fund following a vote in the Senate.
The coronavirus death toll in the US currently stands at 3,186, while the country now has more COVID-19 cases than China, where the disease originated.
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