Will H1B 2020-21 lottery be affected by Coronavirus Recession?

USCIS is working and no news of closing or delaying H1B lottery in April 2020. Economic recession may affect H1B jobs with airlines announcing job cuts.

Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta    Updated  27 Mar, 20

Update 27 Mar, 2020: USCIS has completed H1B registration lottery and will send the notifications by Mar 31, 2020 end of day.

On the other hand, US government is coming up with economy Stimulus bill to avoid the recession, which Bank of America has warned is already here, as reported by CNBC. Banks in USA are gearing up for major job losses.

Chances of H1B Approval

Chances of H1B RFE and approval after lottery during Coronavirus as per my opinion:

  1. IT Consulting In-house projects – RFE chance 90%, Approval chance less than 25%
  2. IT consulting end client project ends before approval – RFE chance 50%, approval chance good if new client letter available – 80%
  3. Full time job US employer – 98% chance of approval

The H1B season has already started and it would be interesting to see how many applications are received by USCIS.

The Coronavirus has spread its wings in the US and many people with American work visa dreams are carefully watching the news.

We try to analyze if the COVID-19 restrictions will affect the H1B lottery due to slow down in growth and recession.

Will USCIS extend the H1B registration date due to Coronavirus?

H1B registration is currently open online until Mar 20, 2020 12 PM Eastern time. USCIS has not announced any extension of registration period yet.

Many US employers have closed their offices but we hope that they will be able to register H1B workers in USCIS’s new system.

It is possible that USCIS announces an extension if all employers are not able to register within time due to COVID-19 office closures.

If everything goes as planned with no USCIS shut down due to the virus, USCIS will run a lottery and inform candidates by Mar 31, 2020.

USCIS h1b lottery registration dates

Can Recession in the US affect the H1B Lottery?

USCIS is open and working even after Trump declared a national emergency. USCIS has not taken any step at this time to stop the H1B lottery or delay due to Coronavirus.

There are talks about the world economy slowing down and it is evident from the actions taken by the US government.

Trump has announced federal government loan help to banks for further distribution to small businesses across America. This is an urgent measure to stop the slowing down of the US economy due to Coronavirus closures.

Federal reserve rates have also been brought down to zero keeping in mind the stock market downfall. The signs are not good and it does show the probability of recession hitting the US economy is high.

Will Lottery be run if Low H1B Applications are Filed?

USCIS runs the H1B lottery only if the total number of applications filed are more than the available number of H1B visas.

If the number of registrations are lower than 85k, then there would be no lottery to select applications randomly.

Airlines & Travel Industry Layoffs

Airlines, hotels and the cruise industry are hard hit with 95%+ cancellations.

All of them are cutting down workforce and lay offs might be more visible by the end of March 2020.

  • BBC reported that British Airways is to ground flights and lay off staff in response to Coronavirus.
  • Forbes has created a running list of layoffs in the USA due to COVID-19.
  • Delta and United airlines are cutting flights and have freezed hiring. Smaller airlines like Spirit may be bought by bigger ones to stop their losses.

The chances are high that many US employers from the hospitality sector will scrap new projects which in turn will be bad for the H1B lottery.

H1B Healthcare Business

If your H1B is being filed for a client in the healthcare sector, then you still have a very good chance of making it to the lottery.

Companies like CVS, Walgreens and others in healthcare will see a jump in their revenue and will have money to spend on new projects.

We expect your H1B to be filed and approved easily if you are going to work as a doctor or physician in the US.

Healthcare services have good chance of getting h1b visa
Healthcare services have good chance of getting h1b visa

IT projects in insurance companies like United healthcare, BCBS and others should also see a healthy demand.

Health insurance will definitely see a jump and you can expect jobs opening up in this sector. More healthcare spending will mean more jobs.

Banking is down

Banking services in the area of home mortgage and car loans will see a sharp slowdown as people will be asked to work from home and avoid social interactions.

Restaurants and malls will see low footfall and hence will affect the car selling business in America.

USA today published an article on how high skilled medical professionals need to be brought into the US to fight the Coronavirus situation. All of these people use H1B and L1 visas to work in the US.

Car Industry is slowing down and will affect IT consulting jobs with Ford, Toyota and other companies. Tesla hires a lot of H1B talent and will be affected.

H1B lottery 2009-13 was Affected by 2008 Recession

The same type of slowdown was seen in the 2008 housing market crash when H1B jobs were lost.

The effect of recession on H1B lottery was visible from the fact that there was no lottery required from 2009 to 2013.

A 19 month recession from Dec 2007 to June 2009 affected the new IT projects and US employers cut down sharply on new hires.

Going by that trend, it is possible that a global economic meltdown affects the next one to two H1B season cycles.

I do know many people who’s H1B application was selected in April 2008 but their employer did not call them to the US even after their application was approved by USCIS to start work from Oct 1, 2008. This happened simply because the projects were abruptly stopped by end clients after April.

In today’s world, USCIS does not even approve an H1B if the end client project is shelved or a consulting company cannot produce a client letter after RFE.

It is very important that you file H1B with a full time direct client employer if you want to have a greater chance of working in the US starting Oct 1, 2020.


Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta           

Recent discussion on forum

  1. Suresh_Kumar_Patel

    Hi Anil,
    yo have suggested that healthcare clients /customer are better is this situation for H1B visa filling ,is it due to Corona Virus or recession ?
    Health care companies are also looking for bail out , as the number of patient will increase they have to cover up some of the payments as well I think .
    IMO , Life science is better industry which is largely unaffected by recession due to nature of the work and goal company has , they rely on the Drug discoveries and usually have 8-10+ years of plans for their projects /applications so usually a recession does not change the project execution plans hence less IT layoffs. they do layoff as in when their Critical Drug programs fails to go through FDA at the end or at the final stage ,which results in huge loss … this is one of the industry which still does hiring in peak recession period.
    Life Science companies : Merck , Novartis,Pfizer etc.

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