It is a painful wait for many awaiting H1B Visa 2017 case receipts after the H1B Visa lottery some have been lucky and some not…for those lucky ones, who have heard from their employers or attorneys may be wondering, what does each status mean and what is the typical processing cycle. Every day I see many of our readers asking questions like, “ I checked USCIS website for status and I see the status ‘Case Was Received’, does that mean I am selected in lottery ?”. This article is meant to clarify each of those status questions and explain the overall flow.
H1B Case Receipt Number – Selected in Lottery
Firstly to make it clear, if you were selected in H1B Lottery for this fiscal year, then your employer/ attorney would have got a case receipt number for your H1B petition. They may have shared that case number with you as well. You can use that case number and check status online: Case Status on USCIS website
What’s the H1B Case Number? Processing Steps at USCIS, Previous H1B Case Statuses and Steps?
The H1B receipt number is a 13 character alphanumeric string that is given by USCIS. It typically starts with EAC or WAC. You may read Understanding H1B Case Number Details, to know more info. For high level understanding of how each H1B petition is processed at USCIS, you should read the article H1B processing steps at USCIS adjudication center. Also, in the past, USCIS used to assign many statuses like Acceptance, Initial Review, Decision, Post Decision Activity, etc. Some of these have been changed with the new system this year. To get an idea of the past flow and statuses, you may read H1B Old Case Statuses and Flow. Below information corresponds to the latest H1B statuses available on USCIS website for a H1B petition.
What are the typical Case Statuses of H1B Visa Petition?
- Case Was Received and A Receipt Notice Was Emailed
- Case Was Received
- Request for Additional Evidence Notice was mailed
- Response to USCIS’ Request for Evidence Was Received
- Case Was Approved And My Decision Was Emailed
- Case Was Approved
- Decision Notice Mailed
- Error : The application Receipt Number is invalid
- Name was updated.
- Fees will be Refunded
USCIS Status ‘Case Was Received and A Receipt Notice Was Emailed’
USCIS emails receipt notices to petitioners, if they filed their petition under premium processing. All this status indicates to us is that the petition with this case number was picked in lottery and was filed under premium processing. A receipt notice with case number and details about processing was sent to the email of the attorney/ employer. Below is the screenshot for the described status.
USCIS H1B Status ‘Case Was Received’
USCIS only emails receipt notices for premium processing applications. For H1B petitions filed under regular processing, USCIS will send out the receipt notices via traditional Mail/ Post. All the above status indicates is that the petition with this case number was picked in lottery and it was filed under regular processing. The receipt notice hard copy will be sent to the attorney/ employer’s postal address on how it will be processed. Check below for screenshot of the described case status.
H1B Case Status ‘Request for Additional Evidence Notice was mailed’
The above status indicates that as part of the adjudication process of the H1B petition, the USCIS adjudicator of this petition, with this particular case number, needs more information to make a decision on the case. To get more information on the case, the adjudicator issued a Request for Additional Evidence notice, which is commonly called as RFE (Request for Evidence). The employer/ attorney will get an RFE notice from USCIS indicating what documents they need to submit for further processing the case. It has an expiry date and employer/ attorney has to respond to that request by that date. USCIS will NOT process this particular case until they receive a response from the employer/ attorney with the requested information. Below is the screenshot of described status.
H1B Case Status – Response to USCIS’ Request for Evidence Was Received
This status corresponds to next status on the case with above RFE notice. All the status tells us is that USCIS has received the response for the issued RFE Notice on the particular case with that case number from the employer/ attorney. The response from employer/ attorney could be either documents or any other supporting material that was requested by USCIS supporting the H1B petition. If your petition is in this status, it means that USCIS will start processing the case as they have received their requested documentation. The status also tells the petitioner that when you can expect a decision/ update on this case. Check below screenshot for RFE response status.
H1B Case Status – ‘Case Was Approved And My Decision Was Emailed’:
This case status indicates that the H1B petition with this particular case number was approved and the approval notice was emailed to the attorney/ employer. This case status only appears for the H1B petitions filed under premium processing. Below is the screenshot of the status.
USCIS Status – ‘Case Was Approved’
The above case status indicates that the H1B petition with this particular case number was approved and they have send the receipt notice to the employer/ attorney by traditional post/mail. This case status appears only for petitions filed under regular processing.
H1B Status – ” Decision Notice Mailed”
Not every H1B Application gets approved. Typically USCIS will issue an RFE and then review the evidence before making the final decision. If USCIS is not convinced with your petition’s supporting documents, they will deny the H1B petition and the case status will be shown as ” Decision Notice Mailed”. Your employer will get a notice indicating why the petition was denied and they can act on it as per the instructions, if they want to challenge the decision by providing additional documents, etc. Below is how it looks.
Status – Error : The application Receipt Number is invalid
If you do not enter a valid 13 character string, USCIS case status website will give you the above error message saying that the application receipt number is invalid. All it means is that, either you have taken the receipt number wrong from your employer or entered it wrong in the box…or maybe your employer did not give you the correct case number. Below is the error screenshot.
USCIS Case Status : Name Was Updated
This is one of the very confusing statuses that USCIS online system gives, when there is some activity happening on your case. The status “Name Was Updated” can be very confusing and misleading everyone at times. It may be genuine that the name was updated due to a clerical error, but not always the case. It definitely means that some activity is happening on your case and your case is being worked on by USCIS. There is a perception among users that this status will lead to rejection/ RFE, but it is not necessarily true. So, when you see something like this status, it is best consult your employer/attorney to check further on your case. No need to panic or get confused. It looks like below
USCIS : Fee will be Refunded Status
One of the others status some of the petitioners see is that ‘Fee will be refunded’. What it means is that the employer/attorney has filed extra fees that is not required and USCIS is refunding the same. It can be for a host of reasons related to fees. As you can see below USCIS would tell that it will not impact the processing of the case, so do not panic when you see this, work with your employer, it will be fine.
Did you notice any other statuses for your Petition ? Any other thoughts to share ?
Check out the next article that articulates the flow of the above statuses After H1B Visa Lottery Case Status Flow