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Annual H-1B Lottery Process – Employers with Foreign National Employees Should Begin Planning Now

Prior to March 1, 2024, U.S. employers should urgently assess whether any current or prospective foreign national employees may require H-1B sponsorship. The annual H-1B lottery process is fast approaching and represents a key immigration planning issue for employers.

H-1B Lottery Process

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to use the electronic registration process, first introduced in 2020, for the 2024 (Fiscal Year 2025) H-1B lottery. Under this process, employers must submit an electronic registration “ticket” for each sponsored employee during a designated registration period in March. In 2023, the registration period ran from March 1 until March 17, and we expect a similar period this year. USCIS then conducts a lottery at the end of March to allocate the limited H-1B visas. If USCIS selects a sponsored employee’s “ticket” in the lottery, the employer will have 90 days to submit a full petition demonstrating eligibility for H-1B status.

In order to file an electronic registration “ticket,” an employer must provide the following information via a MyUSCIS account: employer name, federal employer identification number (FEIN), headquarters address, contact information for an authorized signatory, employee name, date of birth, country of birth/citizenship, passport number, and whether the employee obtained a master’s degree or higher in the U.S. Each registration requires a $10 fee.

In February, USCIS is expected to issue guidance on a new type of employer account that allows multiple individuals with an organization and their legal representatives to collaborate on H-1B registrations and file the petition online. Company representatives with existing registrant accounts will be able to upgrade to this new type of account and invite others to join. USCIS has planned a stakeholder engagement for employers for January 23, 2024.

Next Steps for Employers

U.S. employers should immediately assess whether any current or prospective foreign national employees may require H-1B visa sponsorship to secure ongoing work authorization and work with counsel to prepare an electronic registration.

H-1B visas generally cover bachelor’s-level professional positions. Many U.S. employers hire foreign nationals to work in the U.S. under H-1B visa status, especially recent college graduates or others coming from abroad to work in the U.S. Approximately 65,000 new H-1B visas become available each federal fiscal year (beginning October 1), with an additional 20,000 available for those who obtained a U.S. master’s degree. In recent years, the annual demand for H-1B visas has significantly outpaced their availability. Accordingly, USCIS conducts a lottery around the end of March for the upcoming fiscal year’s H-1B quota. In 2023, there were more than 350,000 non-duplicate registrations for the 85,000 available visas.

Who is Subject to the H-1B Quota

Not all individuals are subject to the H-1B quota. For example, many H-1B employees currently employed by U.S. companies may have already been counted against the quota and will not need to be counted again. Prospective or current employees subject to the H-1B quota may include:

Further Information:

Please contact any member of our Immigration Practice Group if you have any questions regarding the
H­-1B lottery right away.

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