By Miroslava Orduño Rincón –
As I mentioned in various other posts, fee receipt notices for cases selected in the 2019 H-1B Fiscal Year lottery started to roll this week. The process of notifying individuals that were selected and rejected takes several weeks, with lucky winners usually finding out first and the rejected packages arriving later. Understandably, the process is nerve wracking for applicants, specially for those who are running out of optional practical training (OPT) time.
Now, there is a new tool in our arsenal. On March 23, 2018 USCIS launched a tool for F-1 students on post‑completion OPT which allows the reporting of personal and employer information directly to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program SEVP. H-1B lottery applicants in cap-gap status MAY (emphasis on the MAY) be able to find out whether their lottery cases were selected through this portal, even prior to the arrival of the I-797 fee receipt notice. I have received a couple of reports this week from my clients indicating that their employment authorized date had been changed to 9/30/2018. That of course can only happen if the case is selected in the lottery and the OPT authorization has been extended to cover the gap between that document’s expiration and the expected start date for the H-1B petition if ultimately approved. Out of the two reports, one has received a fee receipt notice. The other has not yet, but as per a comment in my prior update, we have not received any further mail notices since Monday. The header image has been redacted and shared with my client’s permission as an example of what to look for.
Thus, if you are an applicant with an OPT expiring prior to 9/30/2018 and have not yet created a portal account, do so now. Information is provided in the link above and in the comments. Then, keep an eye on it, but do not drive yourself crazy checking multiple times a day. The portal is only updated once a day. Please also remember that the updates on this system are NOT infallible nor a substitute for the formal confirmation from the USCIS. Moreover, it is probably safe to assume that updates on selected cases are not all being pushed at once but rather on a rolling basis, batch by batch. However, it is nice to potentially have another source of information. Feel free to share your experiences with the SEVP portal in the comments.