H-1B visa lottery system to stay in place, rules Oregon court

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NEW YORK: U.S. Oregon District Court Judge Michael Simon has thrown out a lawsuit that challenged the H-1B visa lottery system, saying that the government’s random visa distribution method does not violate the law.

The lawsuit termed the H-1B visa lottery by the USCIS as a “never ending game of chance.” The federal judge didn’t agree with that assessment in his 31-page opinion.

The case was brought by two Portland, Ore. firms, Tenrec Inc., a web development company, and Walker Macy, a landscape architecture firm. Each sought to hire an H-1B visa worker, but lost the lottery. The lawsuit wanted petitions to be processed in the order they are received, and end the lottery system.

Judge Simon wrote in his ruling: “For example, the Fedex driver may have had a flat tire or took a long lunch, resulting in the UPS truck delivering its petitions before Fedex. The U.S. Mail delivery may always be delivered in the afternoon for a particular location on the mail route, making its delivery last. Is it fair to process the UPS petitions first, simply because they ‘arrived’ at the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service) office first?”

With this ruling, the H-1B visa lottery for the fiscal year 2018 that begins October 1, can proceed as in past years. This year, USCIS will receive applications from H-1B visa applicants from April 3 onwards. The applications will be received for five business days.

There are a total of 85,000 H-1B visas up for grabs with 20,000 out of those reserved for students who graduate from American educational institutions with a Master’s degree or higher.

If the applications exceed the 85,000 H-1B visas – as has been the case in past years – then a lottery system will be used to decide the recipients. Last year, only 1 out of 3 applicants got an H-1B visa, with a total of 236,000 H-1B petitions received.

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