USCIS memorandum

What is Different about the FY2020 H-1B Lottery Beginning April 1st?

This year, there have been some changes made to the H-1B lottery process and to approval adjudication. 

As in years previous, 65,000 H-1B visas are available for beneficiaries with US Bachelor degrees or higher or their equivalent, and 20,000 H-1B visas are allotted for beneficiaries with advanced degrees of US Master degree or higher.  What is different about this year is that in previous years the 20,000 advanced degree visas are selected in the first lottery, and then the visas left over are thrown in with the second general lottery for the remaining 65,000 visas.  This year, the general lottery will happen first.  Then, the remaining petitions for beneficiaries with advanced degrees will enter into the lottery for the additional 20,000 visas.  This is good news for advanced degree holders.

The second difference is that this year USCIS adjudicators have the authority to deny H-1B visas outright without first issuing an RFE to give petitioners a chance to defend and strengthen their cases. 

It is estimated that there will be about 150,000 H-1B visa petitions submitted the first week of April for cap-subject H-1B visas for FY2020.  Last year, the approval rate for H-1B candidates selected in the lottery was 60%, a rate that has been declining since 2016.  Along with this, the approval rate for cases that received an RFE dropped from 83.2% in 2015 to just 62.3% in 2018 with a massive spike in the overall rate of RFE responses from USCIS.

At CCI, over 90% of our clients who came to us with H-1B RFEs succeeded in getting their RFEs overturned and their visas approved.  We work with difficult cases every year, and this year we urge you to anticipate any RFEs you, or your client or employee’s case is likely to run into BEFORE you file.  This means additional documentation, expert opinion letters from the RIGHT kind of expert, and credential evaluations must be submitted with the initial filing. 

For a free review of your case, visit  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.


Expert Opinion Letters Recommended to Prevent I-140 Issues with Visa Adjudication Memorandum

Specialty Occupation and Wage Level IssuesFor the past few years, specialty occupation issues triggered an unprecedented number of RFEs for occupations that had previously not run into trouble.  We were able to successfully get these RFEs overturned by including an expert opinion letter in the response that fully explains why the occupation meets visa requirements for specialization and educational requirements, and why the wage level it is set at is appropriate.  We have addressed this issue in both H-1B and I-140 cases.Expert opinion letters specific to I-140 issues must be submitted along with the initial petition because this year you will likely not get a second chance to clarify your case, or your employee or client’s case.  Below are three common situations that require an expert opinion letter that we can help you with:The beneficiary is filing a National Interest WaiverUSCIS does not clearly define what is in the “national interest.”  What is clearly spelled out is that the beneficiary serves a unique and functional role in serving the national interest due to their specific accomplishments, credentials, and abilities, and that a US citizen with a similar background could not fulfill this unique function.  An expert opinion letter is needed to clarify what is meant by national interest and explain why you, or your employee or client holds the key to serving it in a crucial way.Managerial or Executive CapacityAn expert opinion letter is needed here to make the distinction that the duties of your job, or your employee or client’s job meets the criteria for what defines a management position.  If you, or your employee or client is filing for a managerial or executive position, you will need an expert opinion letter to explain from the perspective of an outside expert in the industry that the beneficiary does not perform daily workplace functions, but rather MANAGES them.  This distinction can be subtle, which is why it requires additional emphasis in the petition.Extraordinary AbilityAn extraordinary ability letter from an expert in your field, or the field of your employee or client who is not affiliated with them is required to meet EB-1 criteria.  The beneficiary must have made significant contributions to their field and be internationally recognized to qualify for an I-140 visa based on extraordinary ability.  We have experts in every field on hand to write the support letter you need, or your employee or client needs.At we also help with preparing and filing immigration forms to aid legal assistants in the petition process.  For a free review of your case, or a free quote for form filing assistance, visit  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less. ]]>

Visa Adjudication Memorandum Support Part II: Expert Opinion Letters for I-140 Issues We Can Help You With

Managerial/Executive Capacity LetterIf you, or your employee or client works as a manager, you will have to provide extra evidence to make sure the job meets certain criteria to work for the selected preference.  The key factor here is to show that the beneficiary MANAGES the daily functions of the business rather than simply PERFORMS them.  Making this distinction clear in a letter by an expert in the field is essential to making sure the beneficiary doesn’t run into trouble with this differentiation in the adjudication process.Extraordinary Ability LetterIf you, or if your employee or client is filing Form I-140 under classification EB-1, you will need to include a letter from an expert in the beneficiary’s field who is not affiliated with the beneficiary themselves.  This letter needs to clearly show CIS that the beneficiary is internationally recognized for their significant contributions to the field of their occupation.National Interest WaiverThis expert opinion letter is needed if your beneficiary is petitioning as key to the national interest.  What is in the “national interest” is not clearly spelled out and is highly subjective, and so an expert opinion letter is needed to prove to CIS that the beneficiary as an individual serves a key function for the national interest, not just that the occupation or field of employment sponsorship is in the national interest.  When CIS determines whether a beneficiary qualifies for a National Interest Waiver, they are looking for scope of benefit – meaning is the benefit of this person’s contribution effects the nation.  They also take into account whether a US citizen with the same qualifications would be able to accomplish what the beneficiary can.  Therefore, the expert opinion letter must address scope and uniqueness regarding your case, or your employee or client’s case.Specialty occupation, credential evaluation, and work experience evaluation issues also arise in I-140 cases.  These expert opinion letters must take the unique educational requirements of the visa into account because the sequence of education and work experience is nuanced, and any bachelor’s degrees or bachelor’s degree equivalency must be a single source.  This can be especially challenging if the degree was earned outside of the US, the degree major doesn’t match the field of employment, or years of college are missing.At TheDegreePeople, we will ALWAYS write you the evaluation or opinion letter you need with regards to your visa, or your employee or client’s visa, the particular occupation for the particular company, and with regards to CIS approval trends and process and policy changes.Whether you are working on an H1B or I-140 case, visit and let us review your case for free to identify any potential issues you may run into with adjudication.  We will get back to you in 48 hours with our full analysis and recommendations. ]]>

Visa Adjudication Memorandum Support Part I: Expert Opinion Letters for Issues We Can Help You With

Specialty Occupation LetterSome reasons you, or your employee or client will need a specialty occupation letter have to do with wage level issues, which has been a common problem for the past two H1B seasons.  If the wage level is low, or if the low wage level indicates that the job is an entry-level position, you will need an expert opinion letter that explains how the job meets H1B specialty occupation requirements and why the wage level was selected.  Another issues that would require a specialty occupation letter to explain is the issue of what education level is typically required as a minimum to perform the job.  Could someone else with less education perform the same job?  For H1B visa approval the answer MUST be a resounding no, and this specialty occupation letter must explain why.Specialized Knowledge LetterTo meet H1B requirements, it must be clearly shown that the beneficiary holds the specialized knowledge required to work the specialty occupation position.  If the beneficiary holds a generalized degree, incomplete college, or a degree in a different field than the position, you will need a specialized knowledge letter to show that the job requires the employee to have specialized knowledge, and that the employee has the specialized knowledge necessary.  This means specialized knowledge of the employer’s services, products, equipment, processes and procedures.Credential EvaluationsIf you, or if your employee or client has a degree from outside of the United States, a degree in a field that does not exactly match the H1B job, or incomplete or no college at all, you will need to include a credential evaluation to show that your education, or your employee or client’s education – inside and outside of the classroom – is the equivalent US academic value of what is required to meet H1B education standards.  To qualify for H1B status, the beneficiary must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher in the field of the specialty occupation.  If you, or your employee or client holds ANYTHING BUT a US bachelor’s degree (or higher if required by the specialty occupation) in the exact field of the specialty occupation, you will need to include a credential evaluation letter to clearly show CIS that H1B educational requirements are met.Work Experience EvaluationsIf the beneficiary has incomplete college, no college, or needs extra credits to meet US academic value requirements from an overseas degree, or if the degree is in a generalized or mismatched specialization, you will need to include a work experience evaluation.  Three years of progressive work experience in the field of the specialty occupation can be evaluated to be the equivalent of one year of college credit in that field.  Progressive work experience means that the nature of the work became increasingly complex with the beneficiary taking on more responsibility as the course of the employment went on, indicating that education took place on the job.If your case, or if your employee or client’s case includes one or more of these triggering situations, or if you are unsure of whether issues are likely to arise, visit for a free review of your case.  We will identify issues likely to arise in the adjudication process and recommendations on how to prevent them in the initial petition.Watch out for Part II next week where we will discuss expert opinion letters needed for Education-Based Green Card petitions. ]]>

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