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I have great offers from 2 distinct companies, A and B, in the United States. I recently became aware that it is perfectly legal for different, unrelated employers to each file an H-1B petition for me. Both A and B are aware of the whole situation and are willing to go ahead, so I'll only have to make a decision between the two if both petitions get through the lottery process.

However, based on the information in this article on murthy.com (quoted below; emphasis mine), it doesn't seem like a very good idea to file multiple petitions, even via separate employers, this year.

... for the fiscal year 2015 (FY15) H1B lottery, the USCIS has been issuing notices of intent to deny (NOIDs) when virtually identical petitions have been filed for the same beneficiary by two or more potentially related companies.

The USCIS is suspicious of cases in which filings for the same person share key details. ... Commonly identified factors typically include end-clients with the same identity, and location and job descriptions that are identical or virtually identical. The USCIS also points to similarities in supporting documents.

The NOIDs offer two options to overcome the likelihood of having the cases denied. First, the NOIDs request proof that the petitioning companies are not related. This can be evidenced by various documents that demonstrate corporate existence, structure, and ownership. Alternatively, if the companies are related, the NOIDs ask for evidence of how the companies each have separate, distinct business needs. This typically is understood to mean that there must be more than one distinct job opportunity, rather than simply an effort to have a backup plan in the event that one employer's H1B petition is not selected in the lottery.

My concerns are as follows:

  1. Will filing multiple petitions through separate employers increase my chances of getting a visa?

  2. Does my situation come under the "virtually identical location and job descriptions" scenario, which is apparently a potential reason for denial? What "key details", if shared across the petitions, are potential causes for denial? Both offers are for similar roles, and based in the same city, but the companies themselves are completely unrelated. However, what concerns me here is the way the article is phrased: "two or more potentially related companies", signalling that even the hint of a connection will lead to a denial with significant probability.

  3. Are there any down-sides to filing multiple H-1B petitions?

  4. Assuming I do file multiple applications, how would I explain my intent to USCIS?

  5. Any other advice / suggestions regarding my specific situation.

At this point, any kind of advice or help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  • Are both companies in the same city and/or state? Are both companies in the same field? Are both roles basically the same? – Gagravarr Feb 11 '15 at 11:58
  • Same city, similar fields, similar roles (although "field" and "role" are vaguely defined; for example, "social networking apps" is a "field", and "C++ programmer" is a "role"). – user6095 Feb 11 '15 at 12:28
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    To an overworked immigration officer, that does look like there's a highish risk that it'll seem like one company that has applied twice for you to increase their chances. I don't know how you supply the information to demonstrate that they really are two completely independent companies with two completely different jobs (hopefully someone else can), but it does look to me like you'll need to do so! – Gagravarr Feb 11 '15 at 12:36
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I think you answered your own question here. From everything I've read, the USCIS is cracking down on applications like yours that are for the same applicant in the same position from two different employers. This used to be (and probably still is) a regular practice with the big offshoring companies, and abuse of the system lead to these strict requirements.

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