Your H-1B Was Selected in the FY 2020 Lottery, What Happens Next?


I hope you have found my H-1B receipt notice post helpful to you while you waited with bated breath to find out whether yours was selected or not. Congrats on being one of the lucky ones! So, now that you got your receipt, you are probably wondering when your petition will be approved. Last year, we started receiving approval notices around May 23rd in just a handful of cases. I expect the same this year.

What happens next and how long will it take? It depends:

  • If your petition was filed in premium processing and there is no Request for Evidence (RFE) issued, you should have at least an email notification of the approval of your petition by June 4th.
  • If an RFE is issued and your petition is in premium processing, it can take up to 15 more calendar days to get the result after the response to the RFE is received by USCIS.
  • If you filed in regular processing this year, if there is no RFE issued, most applicants can expect to hear back from USCIS by October. This is just based on our experience in previous years, there is no set timeframe from USCIS. In general, they do try to complete all the cases by September 30th, at least for masters cap applicants because they know that the cap gap OPT extension ends on September 30th.
  • If an RFE is issued and your petition is in regular processing, it can take up to 60 days to get the result after the response to the RFE is received by USCIS. So, it is entirely possible that a petition may continue to be pending well into November and even December (In fact, we had a handful still pending from last year at the time we were preparing to file petitions this year).  Again, this is mainly dependent on how quickly the RFE is responded to. If premium processing remains available, the petition may be able to be upgraded to premium processing after the RFE response is received by USCIS.

Many people ask if the petitions are processed in any particular order. Since they are all received practically on the same day, there really is no first in first out order, which is how petitions would normally be processed. In this case, the actual order of approval really depends on which officer is handling the case, how many cases they have, whether an RFE is necessary, and how fast they review them. There is really no rhyme or reason to the order petitions are approved (so don’t look up random receipt numbers around yours to see if they are approved or not, it really does not provide any useful information!).

I anticipate that many cases will remain pending through the summer and may need to consider upgrading to premium processing to receive a timely decision.