Tens of thousands of skilled immigrants petition for the highly sought-after H-1B visa each year. Since so many people petition each year, USCIS places an annual limit on the number of H-1B visas issued and conducts an annual lottery to select the petitions that go onto processing randomly. The competition for H-1B visas is fierce, and only a small percentage of applicants are chosen yearly. The demand for H-1B visas exceeds the supply, making it crucial to have a well-prepared and error-free application. An experienced immigration attorney is best equipped to help you increase the chances of selection. How to Prepare for H-1B Visa Lottery 2024-25 USCIS has announced that the initial registration period starts at noon Eastern on March 6, 2024 and goes through noon Eastern on March 22, 2024. You would benefit significantly by beginning preparations sooner than later. H-1B Registration System One of the big changes this year, as outlined in the official rule, is that USCIS will choose registrations based on unique beneficiary, not by selecting registrations. The agency is doing so by implementing a number of integrity measures in the registration process including requiring the beneficiary's passport info or travel document info, prohibiting the beneficiary from being registered under more than one personal identifier document. USCIS will retain the right to deny or revoke any H-1B petition that's been approved where the beneficiary has changed their personal identifying information. So a beneficiary can have multiple registrations sent from different employers but an employer cannot submit multiple registrations for the same beneficiary under multiple proposed job titles. Please note that the rule is scheduled to published on February 2, 2024 and goes into effect starting March 4, 2024. The online H-1B registration portal allows employers to submit one registration per beneficiary they are sponsoring. Start by creating USCIS online account. On March 6, 2024, at 12 p.m. EST, the registration portal opens. Registration involves submitting the beneficiary's information along with a non-refundable $10 fee, which is much simpler and cheaper than filing an H-1B petition. The beneficiary should not pay the $10 fee. Be aware that the registration fee for the next fiscal year H-1B season will increase significantly to $215 instead of $10. (Online filing for Forms I-129 & I-907 start on February 28, 2024 for H-1B cap-exempt petitions.) On March 22, 2024, at 12 p.m. EST, the H-1B registration submission window will close, and no more registrations will be accepted. USCIS will then conduct the random lottery from the submitted petitions and select 65,000 from the regular H-1B cap and 20,000 from the master's cap as in previous years. Chilean and Singaporean citizens have 6,800 visas set aside as part of the Free Trade Agreement. On or before March 31, USCIS will change the registration statuses to reflect the winners. Those selected need to file petitions and have them approved to obtain an H-1B visa. If they choose your petition, the soonest that you can file your complete H-1B packet is April 1, 2024. Be sure to read our full guide on the H-1B visa to find out more. Employment Start Date Flexibility The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will offer flexibility in the start date for specific H-1B cap-subject petitions. DHS is making the requirements for requested employment start dates on H-1B cap-subject petitions clearer, allowing filings with requested start dates beyond October 1 of the applicable fiscal year. This aligns with the existing USCIS policy, achieved by eliminating the current regulatory text found at 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(iii)(A)(4). It's imperative to follow all the submission rules to ensure the greatest chances of approval. Documents and details required for all registrations: \tEmployer's name, FEIN (identification number), address, contact information, and employer's lawyer's contact information \tBeneficiary's name, birthdate, home country, where they maintain citizenship, passport number, and gender \tUSCIS also needs the beneficiary's educational information Your H-1B is Selected - What's Next? If a beneficiary is selected, each registrant that submitted a registration on that beneficiary’s behalf will be notified of the beneficiary’s selection and will be eligible to file a petition on that beneficiary’s behalf during the applicable petition filing period. USCIS plans to use passport information to identify beneficiaries. Next, the officer will examine your case and determine whether you qualify for the H-1B. If your H-1B petition fails at this stage, USCIS will issue a denial. You will need extensive work to fix the petition. If it passes, USCIS will notify you, and you will be able to start working on October 1, 2024. Understanding Your H-1B Status Under H-1B Visa Lottery There will be one of four statuses in the online portal indicated next to your case. They are explained below: \tSelected: If you see the word "Selected" as your status, that means USCIS chose your H-1B petition in the lottery, and your sponsor can file an I-129. Be aware that they may be staggered filing deadlines for different registrants to ease the processing flow. \tSubmitted: This status means you have successfully submitted your petition. It does not mean USCIS has chosen you. It can have this status until as late as the end of the fiscal year. All registrations that have not been denied will read "Selected" or "Submitted" next to their status. \tNot Selected: The lottery did not pick your registration. It will read this status until October 1, 2024. \tDenied: If a sponsor submits more than one registration for the same beneficiary, USCIS will automatically mark all petitions from this sponsor as denied. After the sponsoring employer is notified that their H-1B registration has been selected, it's time to file the complete H-1B petition with all accompanying evidence. Again, we recommend you do this alongside a qualified attorney to ensure all fields and documents are correctly included. Applicants should send the entire packet of information to the service center. Once they receive it, you'll be issued a 13-digit USCIS case number. Form I-797C, Notice of Action is issued by USCIS to communicate information pertaining to receipt, rejection, transfer, reopening or an upcoming appointment should you be selected in the lottery. In the example below (disclaimer - names, IDs and personal information have been changed for privacy) you'll see it has the title Fiscal Year 2025 Selection and then under it has the company, employer identification number, the person the registration was submitted on behalf of and the confirmation number. If selected, the next paragraph will say "This registration was selected toward the number projected as needed to reach the congressionally mandated cap (regular cap)." In the next sentence, you will see what dates the company needs to file the corresponding H-1B petition. Be aware no other beneficiary apart from the one identified in the I-797C may have a petition submitted. The petition should also include the start date of October 1, 2024. Understanding H-1B Petition Receipt Numbers: Service Center Codes Are you wondering what the numbers mean? The first three letters are the service center processing your H-1B petition. For example, if the Nebraska Service Center handles your case, the first three letters will be LIN. If the Texas Service Center handles your case, the letters will be SRC. Next, EAC indicates the Vermont service center. The last center is WAC for the California Service Center. The following numbers are the year, followed by the day, and the case number is the last five digits. An example number would look like SRC-15-021-93822. You can always check your USCIS case status at any time. H-1B Application Deadline for 2024-25 and Filing Tips Take a look at these H-1B 2024 application deadlines and helpful tips for filing your petition correctly while maximizing your chances of selection. 1. Timing is Key The H-1B is unique in that there are specific dates that you must respect to qualify. Take note of the following H-1B 2024 application deadline dates for the lottery system: February 28: Employers, attorneys, or representatives can register their myUSCIS accounts at noon EST on February 28, 2024. March 6: Sponsors can submit H-1B registrations for their beneficiaries through their accounts at 12 p.m. Eastern Time. March 22: The USCIS will stop accepting registrations at 12 p.m. Eastern Time. March 31: The USCIS will change the status of the submitted registrations to reflect the lottery results. April 1: This is the earliest date for the H-1B cap-subject petition to be filed. April 1 - June 30: This is the filing window for cases selected. October 1: The beneficiaries of approved H-1B petitions can work as H-1B employees. 2. File with Multiple Employers If one employer submits several registrations for the same employee, USICS will reject them. However, the employee can have multiple registrations submitted by different employers. Doing this can significantly increase your chances of being selected in the lottery. Also, one employer can submit registrations for several employees, as long as there is only one registration per employee. 3. Part-Time Work The H-1B visa is not limited to full-time workers. If you only work part-time, this visa option may be for you. 4. Avoid Common Mistakes To ensure that your H-1B petition has the best chance of approval, avoid these common pitfalls that tend to result in rejections: \tIf the employer's FEIN for an LCA is not recognized in the USCIS iCert system, a pre-verification must occur. This can delay your petition approval by several days. \tTriple-check the service center that will be receiving your petition. Sending it to the wrong center can seriously delay approval. \tBe sure to use an approved delivery method to submit your petition. USPS, FedEx, and UPS are all bonded delivery services that you can use. \tWork with your immigration attorney to ensure that your job description is thoroughly described in your petition. \tCombining your fee payments into one check may incur processing delays. Be sure to write separate checks for each payment. \tEnsure that your I-129 start date is correct and does not contain any mistakes or typos. \tMany people make a mistake in thinking that purchasing premium processing will secure them a spot in the lottery or otherwise increase their chances. This is not true. This feature only causes your I-129 to be processed in 15 days and does not change your employment start date. \tMake sure that the employer pays all mandatory fees. Should the USCIS learn that the employee paid these fees after the visa has been issued, there is a possibility the H-1B could be revoked. 5. Consider Alternatives to the H-1B Visa If you and your immigration lawyer conclude that you do not qualify for the H-1B visa or another option would serve you better, here are some alternatives. \tIf you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen, a TN visa may be a better option. This visa class has a limited list of eligible occupations but offers easier application processes and unlimited renewals. \tThe J-1 visa allows people from various occupations to participate in a sponsor program. These include, but are not limited to, students, doctors, nannies, camp counselors, and professors. \tUnder the L-1 visa, an employer can have executives, managers, or specialty employees from an office outside the U.S. to one within its borders. This can also be an excellent way to start a new branch or subsidiary in the U.S. \tThe O-1 visa allows people with extraordinary achievements in their field to work in the U.S. for a period of up to three years. H-1B Lottery 2024-25 Season: Predictions Every H-1B lottery season is full of predictions and is one of the most anticipated periods for immigration. Below are some of the predictions that we made for the 2024-2025 season: H-1B Lottery 2024-25 Prediction I: Registrations Might Not Increase Considering that employers won't try to submit multiple registrations for the same beneficiary under different job position titles now under the new guidelines it's likely we'll see fewer registrations. If that's the case then your chance of getting selected in the H-1B lottery will be much higher than in previous years. H-1B Lottery 2024-25 Prediction II: Chance for a Second and Third Lottery It is possible that there may be 2 lottery rounds. Although in previous years we have seen 3 rounds, this lottery season may be different. During the H-1B lottery process, the candidates USCIS select don't automatically get an H-1B visa. Getting chosen means they can now submit an H-1B petition. If they don't submit a petition on time, are denied, or don't submit a petition at all, they won't get an H-1B visa. This year we may see multiple rounds because it is expected that employers will be highly selective of who they want to hire from abroad and make more concrete job offers to highly qualified candidates. As a result, these petitions will be of higher quality, and not many will get denied. Additionally, these petitions will be more valuable for employers as well, meaning that they will get filed on time. Possible H-1B Program Reforms in 2024-25 Resolving the backlog of visa applications in the United States would likely positively impact the economy and society. It would allow more individuals to come to the United States to work, study, or visit, increasing the number of people contributing to the economy through taxes, spending, and innovation. It would also reunite families that have been separated due to the backlog. This has been a long-term issue in the U.S. since the pandemic. Thus, we should anticipate some legislative or administrative reforms that will tackle this issue and increase processing speeds. We have already mentioned a possible reform to increase USCIS application fees. This could negatively affect low-income individuals and families. Higher fees could make it more difficult for them to access the legal immigration system and may discourage them from applying for necessary immigration benefits. An increase in fees could lead to more individuals and families relying on untrained and not qualified individuals to complete their applications, leading to more errors, denials, and even fraud. H-1B Lottery Visa Fees in 2024-25 Each H-1B registration requires a $10 registration fee that USCIS will not refund even if you're not chosen in the lottery. This makes entering the lottery inexpensive and easy, and it also removes the need for USCIS to process and return the petitions and fees to the sponsors of those who USCIS did not select. However, if USCIS selects a registration, you need to subsequently file Form I-129. In addition, you need to pay the following H-1B visa fees: VisaNation Law Group's attorney fees are as follows: \t$300 for initial registration \t$2,600 if selected, includes form/support letter preparation and case filing \t$500 -- $1,600 for RFE response if needed (depending on complexity) \t$250 fee to upgrade to premium processing after filing the initial petition Only after USCIS confirms that your registration has been selected in the cap lottery, you may retain VisaNation for complete filing for a fee of $2,600. *April 1st is the earliest date that selected FY 2024 H-1B cap-subject petitions may be filed. USCIS Fees (if selected): - $460 filing fee - $750 or $1500 training fee - $500 fraud fee - $2,805 premium processing fee (this new fee goes in effect on 2/26/24). *USCIS fees are subject to change at any time. H4 Dependent Fees (if applicable): - $370 USCIS fee - $550 legal fee Asylum Program Fee – This is a new fee that will be assessed on all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions to help cover the costs of asylum adjudications. This fee should also help free up SCOPS and FOD resources that have been diverted from EB adjudications to asylum adjudications. \t$600 for employers with 26 or more Full-Time Employees (FTEs) \t$300 for small employers (25 FTEs or less) \t$0 for nonprofit organizations The process of going from an H-1B visa to a green card should remain the same for the 2024 season. Learn more in this H-1B to Green Card complete guide! Looking Ahead: H-1B Registration Trends The United States benefits greatly from overseas talent to fill labor shortages across industries. According to the American Immigration Council the median wage for H1B workers in 2022 was $108,000. Contrast that to the median wage of U.S. workers of $45,760. Below is a chart comparing the H1B registrations received year-over-year beginning from 2019 and extending to last year. You can see a significant increase is the trend and the most registrations by far were received last year. H-1B Lottery 2024-25 Predictions: FAQs Our attorneys are often asked many questions about the H-1B lottery. Below we have compiled a list of the answers to the most commonly asked questions about this topic: If I file for a beneficiary in the master's cap, assuming they will have earned their qualifying degree by that time, but they fail to do so, and my registration has been selected, what happens? Failing to earn a qualifying master's degree or higher when filing the H-1B petition will lead to a denial. "If a registration is submitted requesting consideration under the INA 214(g)(5)(C) advanced degree exemption because the beneficiary has earned, or will earn prior to the filing of the petition, a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education, and the registration is selected under the advanced degree exemption, the beneficiary must be eligible for the advanced degree exemption at the time of filing the I-129 petition." Can I appeal my H-1B registration marked as an invalid duplicate? You can't appeal H-1B registrations USCIS marked invalid due to being a duplicate. For this reason and many more, it's highly advised to file with the help of a qualified H-1B lawyer. How can I stay updated on the H-1B changes? The best way to stay updated is to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and work with a qualified immigration professional throughout the process. How will I know if my H-1B registration has been selected? On March 31, logging onto your USCIS online portal should show that the status of your H-1B registration has changed, though it may also have stayed the same. What is a Request for Evidence (RFE)? A Request for Evidence is when USCIS needs more information to decide whether to approve it or deny it. Therefore, it's critical to respond to the RFE within the specified time window. There are three ways you and your lawyer can respond to one. The first approach is a full response. Then, as the name implies, you submit all the requested evidence to USCIS along with your response. The second approach is a partial response, and these tend to be the most common. With this response, you only submit some of the evidence USCIS requests either because it would be better for your case not to submit it all or you do not have access to the evidence they are asking for. The third approach is no response. You and your legal counsel should always discuss the best method to respond to RFEs together. Is there a grace period if I lose my H-1B job? If you lose your job under H-1B status, USCIS will grant a 60-day grace period that starts on the day that your H-1B sponsored employer no longer employs you. You can either find a new sponsor, change your immigration status, or leave the United States entirely in this time frame.