If you are new to H1B process, one of the many questions you might have is, what are the typical steps after the H1B Lottery happens. In this article we will cover typical flow and steps after H1B Lottery selection all the way through visa approval and put it in a flow chart so that it is easy to comprehend.
Background – H1B Case Statuses :Once you are selected in H1B Visa Lottery, your employer or attorney would get H1B Receipt Notice and it has a number. You can use that to check H1B Visa Petition Status online on USCIS website . Below are the various H1B Visa Case Statuses that your petition can go through, after it is selected in Lottery
- 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
To know the details of each of the above case statuses, read the article Various H1B Visa Application Case Statuses – Meaning
Various Steps after H1B Lottery until Approval – Flow chart
“A picture is worth thousand words”, below is that picture on H1B visa status flow ! As you can see in the below H1B case status flow chart with USCIS, the best case scenario after being selected in lottery is to go to approval without any questions or additional information required. From USCIS Case status standpoint, it would be like below based on premium processing or regular processing.
Ideal flow for H1B Approval Scenario:
- Premium processing :
- Case Was Received and A Receipt Notice Was Emailed –> Case Was Approved And My Decision Was Emailed
- Regular Processing
- Case Was Received –> Case Was Approved
The key information that you need to be aware of is that for regular processing H1B petitions, USCIS do not have any SLA(service level agreement) or time limit and their processing can take few weeks to few months. I have seen cases being approved after 6 to 8 months at times or more, so do not panic, just stay calm and work with your employer. If you need a result early, you can always upgrade regular processing to premium processing to get the decision in 15 calendar days. But, you can only upgrade, if premium processing is available. If you look at FY 2019, premium processing was suspended until Feb 19th of next year, so you may not have that option for premium processing sometimes and just need to apply in regular processing and wait for the same.
Flow after H1B Lottery with Request for Additional Evidence ( RFE)
Not all cases go to direct approval like above. USCIS will ask employers to submit various documents depending on the complexity of the case. Typically reasons for RFE could be for the below reasons:
- Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE)
- Specialty Occupation
- Needs of the Petitioner for the Services of the Beneficiary
- Beneficiary Qualifications
- Employer-Employee Relationship
- Maintenance of Status
Check out the article Some of the common H1B RFE Reasons for details on above listed RFE reasons and why you may get them. As you can see in the flowchart above, typical flow by USCIS case status for approval is like :
- Premium processing : Case Was Received and A Receipt Notice Was Emailed –> Request for Additional Evidence Notice was mailed –> Response to USCIS’ Request for Evidence Was Received –> Case Was Approved And My Decision Was Emailed
- Regular Processing : Case Was Received –> Request for Additional Evidence Notice was mailed –> Response to USCIS’ Request for Evidence Was Received –> Decision Notice Mailed
As far as RFE processing goes, it can takes anywhere from few weeks to several months depending on the response time of your employer and USCIS processing times. It is best to work with employer and submit the documents required on time for timely decision and status.
H1B Denied Status – Decision Notice Mailed
Not all H1B petitions filed are approved, some may be denied due to various reasons. In that case, instead of approval you would get denial letter and the final status would be “Decision Notice Mailed”. Also, some of you may see “Name was updated” at times during the flow, it may be clerical updates on your case or some activity happening on your case, nothing to panic.
To put things in perspective, the above case status flow was much more complex in the past with the old system and there were much more statuses. You may read Old H1B case Status flow to get an understanding.
Check out the next article : After H1B Visa Approval – Steps until Stamping
How was your H1B case status flow? Did you notice any other changes? Share your experiences and thoughts.