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USCIS Regulation Changes H-1B Lottery System to Improve Program Integrity

USCIS has published a final rule which alters the method for selection of H-1B lottery entries, in an effort to strengthen the integrity of the H-1B lottery system and improve fairness in the selection process. The regulations will be in effect for this year’s H-1B lottery (Fiscal Year 2025).

New Beneficiary-Centered Selection Process

USCIS will now select lottery registrations by “unique” beneficiary, as identified by their passport or travel document information. This means that no matter how many employers submit an H-1B lottery registration for the same individual, each individual can only be selected once in the lottery.

The Need for Change

In previous years, H-1B lottery entries were selected by registration, not by individual beneficiary. This system made it possible for an individual to have multiple job offers and thus multiple registrations through different employers, thereby increasing the beneficiary’s chance of being selected in the lottery. For example, last year, there were more than 758,000 registrations in the H-1B lottery for the 85,000 total spots available and more than half of those were registrations for individuals with multiple employers submitting an H-1B lottery registration for the same individual. This greatly diluted the chances for beneficiaries with only one employer to win a slot in the lottery and for their employer to be able to file the H-1B petition.

Employer and Beneficiary Next Steps

Employers who plan to submit H-1B lottery registrations should work closely with their immigration counsel to ensure compliance with this new process. Beneficiaries will need to provide a copy of their valid passport or travel document ID page to be entered in the H-1B lottery and any H-1B petition filed on their behalf must contain the same identifying information. While USCIS in its discretion may accept a change in identifying information, such as a change in passport number due to passport renewal between registration and petition filing, special care will be required when submitting this personal data.

Further Information

The Immigration Practice Group is monitoring these developments closely. For more information, be sure to read our previously published LEGALcurrents about the annual H-1B lottery process, the newly announced USCIS organizational accounts and this year’s H-1B lottery process. Please contact any member of our Immigration Practice Group right away if you have any questions regarding the increased filing fees or other provisions.

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