FY2024 H-1B Visa Lottery: Process, Eligibility, and Immigration Results
Are you an employer seeking to hire skilled foreign workers, or are you an individual seeking employment in the U.S.? Understanding the H-1B visa, lottery, and cap is crucial for this global approach to professional growth.
How the H-1B Visa Supports Company Growth
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. These occupations typically require specialized knowledge and a higher education degree. The visa enables skilled individuals to work in the U.S. for a specific employer for up to six years, subject to renewal.
What Is the H-1B Visa Lottery?
Each year, non-US foreign nationals who are applying for an H-1B visa to work in the USA take their chances with the H-1B visa lottery.
Since H-1B applications are accepted only once a year during the application window, it is important that all steps are followed correctly to avoid issues.
In this article, we look specifically at the H-1B visa lottery and its role in the wider visa application process.
How Many Visas are Issued Each Year?
The maximum number of H-1B visas that can be made available on an annual basis is 65,000 under the regular cap, with an additional 20,000 visas available to applicants holding a Masters degree.
6,800 out of the regular quota are also reserved for citizens of Chile and Singapore as part of a specific Free Trade Agreement.
H-1B Electronic Registration Process
Prospective petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, including for beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each prospective beneficiary.
The electronic registration process streamlines processing by reducing paperwork and data exchange and provides overall cost savings to employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
Under this process, prospective petitioners (also known as registrants), and their authorized representatives, who are seeking to employ H-1B workers subject to the cap, complete a registration process that requires basic information about the prospective petitioner and each requested worker. The initial registration period is for a minimum of 14 calendar days each fiscal year. The H-1B selection process is then run on properly submitted electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations are eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
Selections take place after the initial registration period closes, so there is no requirement to register on the day the initial registration period opens.
How Does the H-1B Visa Lottery Work?
The number of annual registrations made during the registration window typically exceeds the annual cap level and the number of available visas. The window remains open to registrations for the full stated period, even after the cap has been exceeded.
Once the registration window is closed, where there are more registrations than visas available, USCIS will carry out the H-1B visa lottery to identify which registrations will be invited to the next stage. This is a random selection process of registrations received during the window.
Selection is not on a first-come, first-served basis. Lottery selections are processed at random and are not determined by when during the window the registration was submitted nor is there any assessment of the merits of the registration.
Successful registrations are then notified and invited to submit their full H-1B petition within the specified deadline, which is usually 90 days from notification. It is important to remember that selection in the visa lottery does not guarantee the visa will be granted. The petition will be assessed against the visa requirements and eligibility criteria.
If the cap is not filled after the initial round of petitions, USCIS may conduct a second round lottery to invite additional workers to submit a full petition. This was the case in August 2023 for the FY 2024. Once the 65,000 H1B cap has been filled, 20,000 petitions will be randomly selected from the Masters Cap petitions. Any of the 20,000 that are not selected will go back into the regular cap.
Next Steps for Selected H-1B Applicants
If selected in the H-1B visa lottery, you will be notified and asked to file your H-1B cap petition within the given timeframe, while non-selected individuals must await the next registration cycle.
Legal Support for H-1B Applicants
At Heckler Law Group, our experienced team guides employers and individuals through the time-sensitive process of the H-1B cap for clients throughout the United States. Regardless of your location, our team will assist you in strategizing and preparing your H-1B visa petition, ensuring timely submissions and compliance with all regulations to enhance the likelihood of securing these coveted visas.