H-1B visa program background
The H-1B visa program allows U.S. employers to petition to obtain a work visa (H-1B) for highly specialized foreign workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty such as architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, and others.
To petition for these workers to obtain a new H-1B visa under the H-1B visa cap, the employer has to first register for an H-1B visa lottery because Congress has not allocated enough H-1B visa numbers for the current demand.
If you also want to watch my Supercharged 30 min FY24 H-1B cap update for employers, you can watch it here.
What is the H-1B registration timeline?
H-1B Registration Process Timeline Overview
- Feb. 22: Petitioners and registrants can begin creating H-1B registrant accounts at noon ET.
- March 1: H-1B registration period opens at noon Eastern.
- March 17: H-1B registration period closes at noon Eastern.
- March 31: Date by which USCIS intends to notify registered employers of the selected registrants.
- April 1: The earliest date that FY 2024 H-1B cap-subject selected petitions may be filed.
Where do I register as a registrant employer to submit an H-1B cap registration for selection?
If you’re a NEW registrant employer, you must first create your new registrant account starting February 22, 2023.
Registered employers and their attorney representatives can complete and submit the H-1B cap registrations online at myUSCIS registration system.
Each beneficiary (foreign worker) must be registered electronically for the selection (lottery) process. A $10 registration fee is required for each registration submitted on behalf of each beneficiary.
What determines if a lottery for H-1B visas occurs?
If enough registrations are received by March 17, 2023 – which is anticipated – USCIS will randomly select from the registrations and send selection notifications to the employers and their representatives via their myUSCIS online account.
A confirmation number is provided for each registration submitted and used to track registration progress and selection.
How many lotteries are conducted and how?
USCIS will conduct two lotteries to select beneficiaries to meet the 85,000 annual cap:
- Regular Cap: The first lottery will include all registered beneficiaries and be used to meet the regular cap of 65,000.
- U.S. Master’s Cap: The second lottery will include registered U.S. advanced-degree holders not selected under the Regular Cap, and be used to meet the additional 20,000 cap reserved for individuals holding a Master’s degree or higher from a qualifying U.S. university.
Because the regular cap is done first, followed by the U.S. Master’s cap, those with U.S. Master’s degree have an increased chance of selection by up to 16% versus those with a Bachelor’s degree.
How do the employers know who was selected under the registration?
USCIS notifies the petitioning employers and their representatives of the lottery results by March 31, 2023 first with a general nondescript email “there has been an update on your account”.
Then, the employ
er logs into their myUSCIS online account to review their registrations and selections. Those registrations that were selected in the lottery can file full H-1B petitions during a 90-day period starting April 1, 2023.
What should I be doing now?
Who pays for the H-1B visa fees? Can the employee pay in some instances?
The law says that an employer may not recoup H-1B costs associated with an H-1B filing which are considered an employer’s business expense.
For example, the USCIS fees associated with an H-1B filing must be paid by the employer and cannot be passed onto the H-1B employee. Additionally, the law says “an H-1B employer cannot require that an employee pay for or reimburse the employer for attorney fees associated with the preparation and filing of an H-1B”.
The current base filing fee for the Form I-129 is $460, the Fraud Prevention Fee is $500, and the Training Fee is $750 or $1500, depending on the employer’s number of employees.
The employer may require that the H-1B employee pay the attorney fees and other fees associated with filing an application for an H-4 dependent, which may be a spouse or child or for premium processing, if desired.
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