As the H-1B visa lottery registration for the USCIS FY 2025 approaches, it is crucial to understand the process and prepare accordingly.
This annual event continues to attract significant attention from applicants and employers alike, as the H-1B visa remains one of the most sought-after pathways for skilled foreign workers seeking employment opportunities in the United States.
This guide, based on recent announcements from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will provide an overview of the lottery process, discuss the key takeaways from last year’s announcements, and offer insights on what to expect moving forward.
The H-1B visa program enables U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, such as those in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Each year, USCIS allocates a maximum of 85,000 H-1B visas, comprising 65,000 for regular applicants with a bachelor's degree or equivalent, and 20,000 for those with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution.
Due to high demand, a lottery system has been implemented to fairly distribute these visas among eligible applicants.
The H-1B Visa Lottery
The process begins with a lottery due to the high demand and limited number of visas available.
Prospective petitioners and their authorized representatives (aka “registrants”) who seek to employ H-1B workers subject to the cap complete a registration process that requires basic information about the prospective petitioner and each requested worker.
The initial registration period must run for a minimum of 14 calendar days each fiscal year. USCIS then runs a random selection process on properly submitted electronic registrations. Registrants who are selected are then eligible to file H-1B cap-subject visa petitions. A cap-subject petition cannot be filed without a valid registration selection number.
Lottery Participation on the Rise Since 2021
Since 2020, lottery participation has nearly tripled, however, the number of available visas remains the same.
2021 (Cap FY) - 274,237 total registrations; 269,424 eligible registrations; and 124,415 selections.
2022 (Cap FY) – 308,613 total registrations; 301,447 eligible registrations; and 131,924 selections.
2023 (Cap FY) – 483,927 total registrations; 474,421 eligible registrations; and 127,600 selections.
2024 (Cap FY) - 780,884 total registrations; 758,994 eligible registrations; and 188,400 selections.
Following the conclusion of the registration period in March 2023, USCIS conducted a random selection process to determine the successful applicants for last year’s H-1B visa program. USCIS received a total of 780,884 registrations for the FY 2024 H-1B visa lottery, reflecting a significant increase compared to the previous year.
On July 27, 2023, USCIS announced that it would conduct a second random selection period in addition to the initial selection for FY 2024.
Properly submitted registrants were notified that they were selected petitioners who were then eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
The second random selection concluded on July 31, 2024. USCIS selected 77,600 registrations in the second selection for the FY 2024 H-1B cap, resulting in 188,400 total selections for FY 2024.
Key Dates and Process for 2024 Registration
- Registration Opening: March 1, 2024, at 11 a.m. central
- Registration Closing: March 20, 2024, at 4 p.m. central
- Required Fee: $10 per registration
- Initial Petition Filing Period: April 1, 2024, through June 30, 2024
- Status Notification: Registrants will be notified via their myUSCIS accounts.
Tips for Successful Registration
- Early Preparation: Begin gathering necessary documentation and information ahead of the registration opening date.
- Accurate Information: Ensure all data submitted during registration is accurate to avoid disqualification.
- Understanding Statuses:
- Submitted: Eligible for selection.
- Selected: Chosen for filing an H-1B cap petition.
- Denied: Indicates duplicate registrations for the same beneficiary.
- Invalidated-Failed Payment: Issues with the registration payment.
- Avoid Duplicate Registrations: Submit only one registration per beneficiary to prevent denial.
- Payment Method Verification: Confirm your payment method is valid and accepted to avoid invalidation.
If selected, you must file an H-1B cap-subject petition within the specified period (90 days) and include a printed copy of the registration selection notice.
Remember, selection does not guarantee visa approval; you must still establish eligibility based on statutory and regulatory requirements.
- For Advanced Degree Exemptions: Ensure your candidate qualifies for this category.
- Legal Compliance: Stay updated on any changes in immigration laws or policies.
- Consultation with Immigration Lawyers: Consider seeking professional legal advice for more complex cases.
The H-1B visa lottery registration is a critical step for businesses relying on skilled foreign workers.
By following these guidelines and staying informed about USCIS updates, you can enhance your chances of a successful registration process. Remember, meticulous preparation and adherence to guidelines are key to navigating the H-1B visa lottery registration effectively.
As competition for H-1B visas intensifies, it remains crucial for both applicants and employers to be well-prepared for the lottery process and to explore alternative visa options, if necessary.
For further information and updates, please visit USCIS's official website and the H-1B Electronic Registration Process page.
About Our Author
Mary Kate Fernandez practices primarily in business immigration, litigation, and labor and employment. Mary Kate is a leading member of the Adams and Reese Business Immigration practice team which assists employers in understanding the various immigration hire processes, and obtaining and complying with Non-Immigrant Work Visas, employment-based green cards, international intra-company transfers, adjustment of status, permanent residence, among other documentation.
This guide is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult with an immigration attorney for advice specific to your situation.