Everyone’s Talking About H-1B Visas, Lottery Registration and US CIS Filing Fee Increases

By: Richard Hanus, Esq.

January 31, 2024

It’s always around Thanksgiving when chatter starts swirling about when the next chance to obtain an H-1B work visa will happen.  A couple months later employers and their prospective H-1B workers get news that the H-1B visa lottery registration is a few weeks away and that parties need to put the pieces in place to avail of the process.  With this week’s announcement of the upcoming H-1B visa lottery registration, we are officially at “put the pieces in place” time.   Specifically, starting on March 6, 2024 at noon EST and through March 22, 2024 at noon EST, U.S. companies and other organizations will have the opportunity to enter an H-1B visa lottery registration for each qualifying foreign national worker they seek to employ.   This means the time is now to start gathering information and documentation and establishing (or updating) their US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (US CIS) account.

Each year, Congress makes available 85,000 H-1B visas and historically, demand has exceeded supply by significant margins.  All in all though, the registration process is fairly straight forward, with interested employers providing basic information about the company and prospective H-1B worker via their online US CIS account. Like in years past, US CIS requires payment of $10.00 per registration.

In weeks following the close of the registration window, US CIS will start notifying successful registrants and provide next steps information for facilitating H-1B petition filings.  If approved, the H-1B petition will allow the sponsored foreign national worker to obtain an H-1B visa, or commence H-1B visa status, starting October 1, 2024, and for a period of up to 3 years (with options for further extensions).

Furthermore, in recent months, US CIS has implemented substantial quality control improvements to cut down on employers looking to game the system, such as by unfairly entering multiple registrations though affiliate companies and for the same employee.

As a matter of background, the basic requirements for H-1B filings include:

  1. Having a bona fide U.S. employer offering the prospective H-1B worker a job in a “specialty occupation” where the attainment of a bachelor’s degree (or higher) is a usual requirement for the occupation at issue and with a offered salary of at least the “prevailing wage” per Department of Labor regulations AND
  1. The foreign national worker completed a university degree (or equivalent – via work and education) in a curriculum related to the position being offered – although experience related to the position offered often can be substituted for coursework.

News and policy updates related to the H-1B visa lottery registration process will continue to be covered in this blog.

Beware of Immigration Filing Fee Increases – Starting April 1, 2024!

US CIS has just announced important new details regarding filing fee increases set to take effect on April 1, 2024.  It has been more than 7 years since US CIS has hiked their filing fees, and the ones set to take effect will impact both employment based and family based filings – with increases ranging from 20% to 200% – depending on the filing at issue.  Prospective filers may be legally eligible to file their petition or application prior to that date, may want to research their options and consult competent immigration counsel to plan a filing strategy.  US CIS’ updated fee schedule featuring the April 1, 2024 filing fee increases can be found here.

By |2024-01-31T18:32:16-06:00January 31st, 2024|Categories: DHS / Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)|
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