Presented below is the excerpt from the Times of India Article by Ishani Duttagupta in conversation with our Attorney Manjunath Gokare on April 12, 2023.

What have been some of the highlights of the H-1B lottery this year as far as Indian applicants are concerned?
The highlight of this year’s H-1B Registration process was the very low selection rate – given that Indian Nationals are one of the largest beneficiaries of the H-1B program, they were significantly affected. Looking at the data from our Firm, the H-1B selection rate was about 15%.  If this is true across the board, USCIS may have received about 600,000 – 650,000 total Registrations and selected about 15% of the same towards the 85,000 cap.  It is certain that USCIS received a very high number of  duplicate registrations. Practice of duplicate registrations, disadvantages everyone.

Why is it being considered a bad year for Indian applicants?
The low selection rate has affected many Indian students who were on OPT and were expecting to transition to H-1B.  Now, we will see many of these students resorting to day-1 CPT for continued employment in US and maintenance of status.

Typically, what is the profile of applicants who have faced disappointment in the H-1B lottery and what would you consider some of the worst-case scenarios?
F-1 students as well as people in dependent visa categories such as H-4 and L-2 are affected when they are not selected in the lottery.  F-1 students are impacted the most, especially those who are running out of their OPTs.  Day 1 CPT is often an avenue such students pursue for continued employment in US and maintenance of status.  Dependent visa holders are affected less as they can still maintain their lawful visa status in the US and do not face the prospect of having to leave the US.

There are several Indian students on OPT in the US who are working in US companies – if they have not got H-1Bs through the lottery this year, what are their options, if any, to remain in the US?
F-1 students still in the first year of post completion OPT can get 2 more years of STEM OPT (if they have graduated from STEM programs) and may as such have 2 more attempts remaining to try for H-1B.  However, those nearing the end of STEM OPT may have to consider the less than suitable option of enrolling in universities that offer Day 1 CPT.  

Any suggestions to reduce duplicate Registrations and improve the integrity of the H-1B Registration process?
USCIS should consider the following steps:

  1. Registration fee should be increased significantly (as proposed) as a way to disincentivize the practice of duplicate registrations.
  2. USCIS should collect a portion of eventual filing fees at the Registration stage, which could then be adjusted if the case gets filed. So, if there are frivolous duplicate filings that get selected but not filed, there is a financial implication for such filers.
  3. USCIS should remove the H-1B cap entirely. So, USCIS should let the economy and labor market decide how many H-1Bs are required, rather than impose an artificial cap. We know this idea works, from Clinton era, when the H-1B numbers were around $197,500 and the Cap would never be met. So, H-1B numbers would be available for all throughout the year!

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