Navigating the Results: Understanding the 2023 H-1B Cap Lottery

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached its annual quota of 85,000 new H-1B filings for the fiscal year 2024, following the registration process in March 2023.  This significant development affected thousands of applicants worldwide.

Were you affected by this development? This article aims to clarify the complexities of the H-1B cap lottery and offers insights for those seeking guidance. You can also contact an immigration lawyer in Queens, NY, for specific legal advice regarding your case.

Recent updates in the FY2024 H-1B cap

The H-1B visa lottery for fiscal year 2024 is closed. USCIS filled all available slots (the quota) through the two lottery windows—one in March and another in July 2023. If your registration wasn’t selected in either lottery, you cannot file an H-1B cap petition for this year.

Your next opportunity to sponsor an H-1B visa will be in March 2024, for the fiscal year 2025 cap. However, be aware that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may change the registration process for FY2025. An immigration lawyer in Queens, NY, can keep you updated on any confirmed changes.

Record registrations for FY2024 H-1B Visa

For the fiscal year 2024, the USCIS received an extraordinary number of registrations—totaling 758,994 eligible applications—for the H-1B cap. This marked a 60% increase from the previous year. This surge raised concerns about potential misuse of the registration system, with some organizations suspected of filing multiple registrations for the same individuals. In response, USCIS initiated investigations and prepared to refer cases of suspected fraud to law enforcement.

In light of these concerns and to meet the annual cap, USCIS conducted two lottery selections. The first took place in March when 110,791 registrations (accounting for 14.6% of the total) were chosen. A second selection occurred in July, with 77,609 additional registrations selected.

If you were one of the fortunate ones selected in the H-1B visa lottery, it’s crucial to navigate the next steps carefully. Seeking advice from an experienced immigration lawyer in Queens, NY, can be immensely beneficial in understanding and effectively managing the subsequent stages of your H-1B visa application.

Basics of the H-1B visa

The H-1B visa is a type of non-immigrant visa designed for US companies to hire foreign professionals for jobs that demand specialized theoretical or technical knowledge.

It requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience. Degrees from both US and foreign institutions are acceptable, provided they come from accredited universities or colleges.

Those without a four-year degree can qualify with a combination of experience and education. The H-1B visa allows a stay of up to three years, extendable to six years under certain conditions. Dependents can enter on an H-4 visa.

In New York, lawyers with extensive experience in this visa category offer successful guidance for companies.

How the USCIS lottery works

The H1B visa lottery is an annual event for non-US foreign nationals applying to work in the USA. It’s crucial to follow all steps correctly during the application window to avoid issues.

Let’s take a closer look at the H-1B visa lottery and its role in the broader visa application process.

The H1B application process

The H1B visa application process encompasses multiple steps, beginning with securing a qualifying US employer as a sponsor. This sponsor is responsible for offering a job that fits the H1B criteria.

During the annual registration period, sponsors must submit electronic registrations for their prospective H1B employees. These registrations include basic information about the applicants (such as their qualifications and the nature of the job offer).

Mechanics of the H-1B visa lottery

Every year, the number of H1B visa registrations submitted to USCIS typically surpasses the set cap and the number of visas available. After the registration window closes, USCIS carries out a lottery to select which registrations will progress to the next stage of the visa application process. This selection is entirely random—meaning it does not give preference to registrations submitted early or evaluate the quality of each registration.

Those with registrations selected in the lottery have a 90-day window to file their complete H-1B visa petitions.

Do note that being selected in the lottery does not automatically mean the visa will be granted. The submitted petition still needs to comply with all the H-1B visa requirements and eligibility criteria. In cases where the cap is not met after the initial round of selections, USCIS may opt to conduct a second lottery to fill the remaining slots.

Maximizing lottery selection chances

To maximize chances of success, applicants and sponsors should ensure accurate and complete form submissions, adherence to deadlines, and compliance with job and visa eligibility requirements. Multiple applications for the same position or employer should be avoided. These steps do not increase selection chances but help prevent delays and problems in the lottery process.

For any queries regarding H-1B cap registration or the USCIS lottery process, it’s advisable to talk to an immigration lawyer in Queens, NY. Call Berd & Klauss at 212-461-7152 for an appointment.