In 2020 USCIS implemented an electronic registration process for the H-1B cap. Petitioners, companies seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, including beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each beneficiary.
Under this process, petitioners (also known as registrants), and their authorized representatives, complete a registration process that includes basic information about the prospective petitioner and each requested worker. The registration period is open for a minimum of 14 calendar days each fiscal year. The H-1B selection process will run on correctly submitted electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
Selections will take place after the initial registration period closes, so there is no requirement to register on the day the initial registration period opens.
What is the H-1B lottery?
The H-1B lottery is held once annually for those employed in a specialty occupation role (a job that requires a bachelor’s or higher degree in a related major) in the United States for a temporary period.
How does the H-1B Lottery Process work?
Last year (FY 2021) USCIS introduced a new online registration system (my.USCIS.gov) for companies to enter their employees in a lottery electronically. USCIS held the registration period between March 1st and 20th, and applicants were selected at the end of March. There was then a 90-day window for employers to file any H-1B petitions for employees selected in the H-1B lottery. USCIS hasn’t yet released the official 2022 (FY 2023) H-1B lottery dates, but we suspect that a timeline will be similar to last year.
Which employees should we consider for the lottery?
- Employees who USCIS did not select in previous lotteries
- Employees who are currently working abroad
- Employees in F-1 student statuses using OPT, STEM OPT, or CPT work authorization
- Employees in TN, E-3, or EAD status as a dependent to a principal visa holder (H-4, L-2, E-3D, etc.)
- Employees who you may consider for green card sponsorship in the future. What are the next steps if I have an employee I want to enter in the lottery? We’ve constructed this timeline modeled after last year’s process as detailed by USCIS and will update as needed if USCIS issues new guidance.
- January/February: Work with relevant managers, legal team, and international candidates to ensure the most robust possible case strategy.
- March 2nd: Petitioners and registrants can begin creating H-1B registrant accounts at noon Eastern
- March 9th: H-1B registration period closes at noon Eastern
- March 31st: Date by which USCIS intends to notify selected registrants.
- October 1st: The earliest possible start date on your petition, if your registration was selected consider starting the conversations about filing as early as possible and collecting the relevant data and documentation to avoid increasing additional anxiety or urgency into the process for all stakeholders.
Last year’s H-1B registration and lottery process:
According to USCIS, registrations were submitted by more than 37,000 prospective petitioners and roughly 48% of all registrations requested consideration under the advanced degree exemption.
Per regulation, USCIS analyzes historical data related to approvals, denials, revocations, and other relevant factors to calculate the number of registrations needed to meet the H-1B cap for a given fiscal year. Based on historical data, the initial projected number of registrations required to meet the numerical limitations for FY 2022 was less than the initial projected number of registrations required for FY 2021.
For FY 2021, USCIS received 274,237 H-1B registrations and initially selected 106,100 registrations projected as needed to reach the FY
2021 numerical allocations. USCIS conducted a second selection in August 2020 of an additional 18,315 registrations due to low filing volume from the initial selection. This selection resulted in a total of 124,415 selected registrations.
For FY 2022, USCIS received 308,613 H-1B registrations and initially selected 87,500 registrations projected as needed to reach the FY 2022 numerical allocations. On July 29th, 2021, USCIS conducted a second selection of an additional 27,717 registrations. This selection resulted in a total of 115,217 selected registrations. The petition filing period based on chosen registrations on July 28th began on August 2nd and closed on November 3rd. On November 19th, 2021, USCIS conducted a third selection of 16,753 registrations. This selection resulted in a total of 131,970 selected registrations.
How Many H-1B Visas Were filed in 2021 and Approved in 2020?
According to USCIS, for FY 2022, received 308,613 H-1B registrations and initially selected 87,500 registrations projected as needed to reach the FY 2022 numerical allocations. On July 29, 2021, USCIS conducted a second selection of an additional 27,717 registrations. This registration resulted in a total of 115,217 selected registrations. The petition filing period based on registrations chosen on July 28th began on August 2nd and closed on November 3rd. On November 19th, 2021, USCIS announced that we conducted a third selection of an additional 16,753 registrations. This registration resulted in a total of 131,970 selected registrations.
According to USCIS, the approval rate for H-1B visas was 97.3%, the highest rate in a decade. The agency received 398 267 H-1B petitions.