Parikh is applying for an H-1B visa, which tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft rely on heavily to fill technical positions like software engineers. The application window for the lottery just opened this week, and the competition is stiff.
For FY2018, more than 190,000 petitions were filed for 85,000 new H-1B visas, of which 20,000 slots were set aside for master's candidates, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Parikh has already been rejected from the H-1B lottery twice. If he gets a third rejection, he can still apply for an employment authorization under his green card application. But that process also takes time, money, and patience. Since his wife is a U.S. citizen, Parikh can still live in the U.S. if he doesn't get a work visa or authorization, but he will no longer be able to work in the country.
But Parikh might have a leg up on the competition this year. Under a change to the H-1B visa lottery this year, the Trump administration is allowing master's candidates to apply first for the general pool of 65,000 visas. Master's graduates who aren't selected in that lottery will then be given a second chance for one of 20,000 visas designated for advanced degree holders. The changes mean master's degree candidates like Parikh should have a better chance of getting picked.
The H-1B lottery will likely see more changes.
Next year, the government will implement a new, electronic pre-registration process. Under that system, employers will fill out a brief online form for each employee they want to submit for the H-1B lottery. Once the H-1B candidates are selected, employers will then fill out a full petition for approved candidates – something they have to do now for every H-1B lottery candidate regardless of whether they are chosen. The change could save companies loads of billable hours and effort filling out full petitions for each employee.
However, some experts say the ease of filing under the pre-registration system could be a drawback for anxious foreign nationals waiting to be selected.
"The new rule actually makes it easier for companies to register more foreign national employees for purposes of participating in the cap, says Hiba Anver, a senior managing attorney at Erickson Immigration Group. "So there is potential to dilute the pool of applicants, thereby decreasing the likelihood that your case is actually going to be selected."