By:  Richard Hanus, Esq.

Published February 1, 2022

The H-1B work visa season will soon be upon us and it’s time to start preparing.  More specifically, starting Noon EST March 1, 2022 and through Noon EST March 18, 2022, registration for the online H-1B visa lottery opens, giving employers a chance at one of 85,000 H-1B visas and for an October 1, 2022 start date, the start of fiscal year 2023.  After the online registration period is complete, US Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) will randomly choose from the pool of entrants, which last year exceeded 309,000.

The online registration process requires petitioning employers to provide various pieces of information about the company and prospective H-1B worker.  In the months that follow the close of the registration, entrants will be notified if they are among the chosen, and thus permitted to proceed with their H-1B visa petition filing for FY 2023 consideration.

What are the essential requirements for an H-1B visa?

  1. In general, a U.S. company must be willing to offer a position in a specialty occupation or professional position, where the attainment of a university degree in a field related to the job offered is typically required AND
  1. The foreign worker possess a university degree, or equivalent, in the field in question – although experience related to the position offered often can be substituted for coursework.

The aim of the visa lottery is to give employers/workers a fair chance at one of the 85,000 visas released each fiscal year – with 20,000 set aside especially for petitions on behalf of workers who have completed a graduate (post Bachelor’s) degree program in the U.S.  – usually as an international student (F-1).  Importantly, the overall 85,000 supply – known as “cap subject” – does not include H-1B visas allocated to government agencies, institutions of higher learning and related organizations, where an unlimited supply of H-1B visas are available.  The latter are known as “cap exempt” H-1B visas.  Further, requests to extend a worker’s currently held H-1B visa status is also considered “cap exempt”.

As is well known by now, the demand for cap-subject H-1B visas has historically exceeded supply by a significant margin.  In carrying out the selection process, US CIS actually conducts 2 lotteries, with the first lottery including all registrations in the pool of entrants as it allocates the general cap supply of 65,000.  The second lottery allocates the remaining 20,000 spots and solely from registrations for petitions on behalf of U.S. advanced-degree holders who were not picked in the first phase of the lottery.

To register for the H-1B visa lottery, employers must first set up a “my USCIS account”, an online vehicle by which the organization and their immigration counsel are kept apprised of the results of their lottery entries.  Importantly, a successful H-1B visa lottery pick is particular to the one foreign worker designated in the registration, and is thus not transferable to another worker not chosen in the lottery.  Also, like in years past, we should expect there to be additional notification periods of lottery picks after US CIS factors in newly available, unused visas after a chosen entrants’ H-1B filing was either denied for a substantive reason or was never acted upon to begin with.

Eventually, successful registrants will be given a specified window of time within which to submit their cap-subject filings with a US CIS Service Center.  Further, petitioners will also likely have the option of seeking “premium processing” of their filings, where for an expenditure of an additional $2,500.00, the submission will be processed in 2 weeks or less.

The latest news in the area of H-1B registrations and filings will continue to be featured in this blog.

PUBLISHED February 1, 2022– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2022, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois