As in prior years, Fredrikson anticipates that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will open the initial registration period for the cap-subject fiscal year (FY) 2024 H-1B visas in early March 2023. While USCIS will announce the registration window and process, which will allow prospective petitioners (registrants) to create new accounts for the H-1B lottery registration soon, employers who would like to participate in the H-1B lottery for FY 2024 should start preparing for it now.
H-1B Cap and Lottery Registration Process
The H-1B is available to employers seeking to hire a foreign national worker with at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a relevant field for a position that requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the field (also known as a specialty occupation). The employee must also be paid the prevailing rate of pay for the occupation. Under the rules, 65,000 new H-1B’s are issued each fiscal year, which begins on October 1, with an additional 20,000 for graduates of U.S. master’s degree programs. USCIS has historically accepted applications for cap-subject petitions beginning on April 1.
In recent years, USCIS has utilized a lottery registration process for H-1B cap numbers, which normally opens up around early March. Once the registration period closes, USCIS randomly selects a sufficient number of registrations filed during the registration window to meet the H-1B cap for the next fiscal year. Employers or their representatives can file H-1B cap petitions with a start date of October 1 for selected beneficiaries. Registrants are only allowed to submit one registration per beneficiary in any fiscal year.
The USCIS registration process has been by and large successful. It has saved employers time and money, creating a far more reasonable and efficient H-1B cap filing system. When the initial registrations chosen did not yield enough H-1B petitions to meet the quota, USCIS drew more registrations and announced further applicants eligible to apply.
How Should an Employer Prepare for the 2024 H-1B Season?
Employers should contact the Fredrikson Immigration Group as soon as possible with information about the employees who should be registered in the H-1B lottery. We will assess employees’ eligibility, prepare the registration forms as soon as possible to be submitted on the applicable date, and prepare the entire H-1B petition after the lottery is conducted and if the case is chosen. We will need specific information about each employee to be registered, including job title, duties and proposed salary, as well as biographical information. It is essential that we determine H-1B eligibility before filing. We will send a detailed registration checklist for each employee.
Identifying Candidates Who Need H-1B Sponsorship
The H-1B cap applies in most situations to new H-1B petitions for foreign workers who have not had an H-1B status before. To avoid missing out on filing an H-1B petition under the FY 2024 H-1B cap, it is important to identify candidates who need sponsorship and are in professional positions. Some of the candidates may already be employed and working under temporary work authorization. Below are examples of cases where an employee or job candidate may need an H-1B sponsorship:
- Students who are working under Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and will need H-1B sponsorship to continue with their employment in the U.S. once their OPT or CPT expires.
- Candidates currently in H-1B status with an H-1B cap-exempt employer (institutions of higher education or a related or affiliated non-profit entity, nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations) who are seeking employment opportunities with cap- subject employers.
- Candidates who are in other nonimmigrant work status, such as TN, H-3, H-2, O-1 and J-1, but need to change their status to H-1B.
- Candidates who are in dependent status with work authorization, such as H-4 or J-2 with a valid EAD, L-2 spouse, or E-2 spouse, for whom H-1B would provide work authorization independent from their spouse’s immigration status.
Please contact us if you would like our assistance in registering, preparing and filing a cap-subject H-1B petition. We strongly recommend starting the H-1B registration process by identifying registration candidates as soon as possible. Fredrikson will provide an alert and further guidance regarding the registration process as soon as USCIS releases guidance for H-1B cap registration for fiscal year 2024.