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Time to Get Ready for the H-1B Filing Season

It is once again time for employers to evaluate their H-1B needs as the annual filing season approaches. Despite continued strong demand for skilled workers, U.S. law places a yearly limit or “cap” on most new H-1B visas at 65,000, plus 20,000 set aside for those graduating with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. university. Each year the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts a lottery for these limited visas, typically in March. While we wait for USCIS to announce specific details on the registration process, now is a good time to review the immigration status of current and prospective foreign national employees and identify any individuals for whom H-1B status might be beneficial. These may include:

  • Recent college/university graduates employed in F-1 optional training.
  • Overseas candidates.
  • Employees of overseas affiliates who are not eligible for L-1 visas.
  • Employees in TN or E status for whom an employer is considering pursuing permanent residence.

Registration for the H-1B Lottery

The registration process for the lottery will once again be electronic and will require the payment of a small fee per registrant. The USCIS recently announced that “organizational accounts will allow multiple individuals within an organization, such as a company or other business entity, and their legal representatives to collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations.” The USCIS also plans to introduce electronic filing of H-1B petitions. We are closely monitoring this situation and will work with our clients to ensure timely registration of all candidates.

Random Selection

Once the registration period ends, USCIS will conduct a random selection process among the registrations received. USCIS received more than 780,000 total H-1B registrations in 2023.

When the random selection process is complete, USCIS will notify employers with selected registrations, and only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file an H-1B petition. Approved petitions will have a start date no earlier than October 1, 2024.

What to do Now

Employers should contact our immigration team with information about employees and candidates who should be registered in the H-1B lottery.

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