h1b predictions

Each year, tens of thousands of skilled immigrants petition for the highly sought-after H-1B visa. Since so many people petition each year, the USCIS placed 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. We’ll explore your H-1B predictions, filing tips, common mistakes, H-1B registration, and more. Let’s get right into our H-1B Lottery 2021-2022 predictions.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: USCIS closed H-1B Lottery registration on March 25 and has already started notifying employers or their attorneys whether or not they were selected. We have received several selections from the H1B registration we had submitted. USCIS is expected to complete sending notifications by March 31. Those selected will have until June 30 to submit their petition with the necessary paperwork. Submission requirements are included in the H-1B cap Registration Selection notice PDF received by the selected petitioners or their attorneys. Although USCIS has not released the final number, the number of registrations for the H-1B lottery is expected to have exceeded the 85,000 cap amount. If you were not selected in the FY 2021-2022 H-1B lottery, learn about your other options in this post.

The information regarding the H-1B rule covered in this post is current as of the publication’s date. We will keep our clients posted with updates as they arise.  

H1B Lottery 2021–2022 Season: Predictions

The H-1B lottery season is one of the most anticipated periods for immigration. Here are our H-1B predictions.

h1b predictions infographic

 

H1B Lottery Prediction I: Registrations Will Increase

Last year saw the new H-1B registration system launch that made it easier for employers and candidates to take part in the lottery. There was apprehension with the new system, but it eventually worked without issue. With the registration system’s success and the increasing hope of the pandemic ending, we predict H-1b registrations will increase for the 2021–2022 season. With the predicted increase in registrations, we also predict that H-1b lottery odds for selection will decrease.

H1B Lottery Prediction II: Chance for a Second Lottery

Last year there was another round of the lottery around August 2020, so there is a chance for a second round this year. The second round gave newly selected employers from mid-August until mid-November to file petitions. We’ll explain why we can see a second lottery happening even though our H-1B predictions now include an increase in registrations.

During the H-1B lottery process, the candidates selected don’t automatically get an H-1B visa. Getting selected 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, then they won’t get an H-1B visa.

Last year, USCIS didn’t receive enough petitions to fill the 85,000 H-1B quota and ran another lottery. The second lottery didn’t allow for more registrations. Instead, USCIS just randomly picked from those candidates who already registered but were not initially selected. This highlights the importance of submitting the registration on time and accurately because you never know when USCIS might run another lottery for the season.

H1B Lottery Prediction III: Premium Processing Might Not Be Available

One thing that is up in the air is whether premium processing will be available this season. Last year premium processing was not available initially, but later it was. The premium processing fee has also increased substantially to $2,500. Stay tuned to our page for updates on premium processing as the implementation changes often and quickly.

H1B Lottery Prediction IV: Prevailing Wage Rule Delayed

This one is less a prediction and more of a reality. Still, before the Biden Administration’s decision, we had predicted that the Trump Administration’s late issuing of the Prevailing Wage Rule would be delayed for at least the next season or not implemented at all.

The Biden Administration still has to thoroughly review and make decisions on many of the rules that the Trump Administration brought forward before his term in office was over.  The Prevailing Wage Rule would prioritize candidates in higher wage levels (give preference to foreign professionals that earn a considerable salary).  It is important to know that this rule has at the moment been postponed until December 31, 2020, so it won’t be part of the 2021–2022 H-1B season. The rule also has potential blocks from the Biden Administration and the courts, so we’ll see if it’s ever implemented.

H-1B Lottery Prediction V: More H1B Interviews

The H-1B interview was something that was at the discretion of USCIS officers. We expect these interviews to become more common this season and at some point in the future maybe even mandatory.

How to Prepare for H1B Visa 2021-22 Lottery

Since USCIS starts accepting registrations for the H-1B visa 2021 lottery on March 9th, you would benefit greatly by beginning preparations. The first thing you may want to do is secure a qualified H-1B visa attorney. The reason for this is fourfold.

h1b 2021 lottery predictions

Firstly, you will want to make sure that your registration is properly filed. This means that it correctly falls into either the regular or master’s cap. If a registration is incorrectly submitted into the master’s cap and is selected, it will be subsequently denied during processing. Because the rules surrounding admission into the master’s cap can be tricky, it’s best to have help.

Secondly, employers want to avoid submitting multiple registrations for the same beneficiary, either purposefully or accidentally. Doing so will invalidate all registrations for that beneficiary and cause employers to lose their chances of having him or her obtain an H-1B visa this year.

Third, once a registration is selected, the case has only just begun. With denials and RFEs are on the rise, it is important to have an expert in your corner when the USCIS is processing your H-1B petition.

H1B Registration System

The online H-1B registration portal allows employers to submit one registration per beneficiary they are sponsoring. You can create an online account with USCIS here. On March 9th 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.

On March 25th 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 cap and 20,000 from the master’s cap as in previous years. As part of the Free Trade Agreement, 6,800 visas are also set aside for Chile and Singapore citizens. On or before March 31st, the registrations will have their statuses changed to reflect the winners. Those selected will still need to file petitions and have them approved to obtain an H-1B visa. If they select your petition, the soonest that you can file your complete H-1B packet is April 1, 2021. Be sure to read our complete guide on the H-1B visa find out more.

H1B Visa Submission Policy

It’s imperative to follow all the submission rules to ensure the greatest chances of approval.

  • All H-1B registrations must be submitted after 12 p.m. EST on March 9, 2021 12 and before 12 p.m. EST on March 25, 2021. If you submit your petition outside of this window, USCIS will issue a denial.
  • Employers can submit only one registration per sponsor for each beneficiary. If a sponsor submits more than one for the same foreign worker, then all the beneficiary’s registrations will be marked invalid and denied. One sponsor is allowed to submit more than one registration for multiple employees, and one beneficiary can have multiple registrations submitted by multiple employees.

Documents and details required for all registrations:

  • Employer’s name,  FEIN (identification number), address, contact information, and employer’s lawyer’s contact information
  • Beneficiary’s name, birthdate, home country, where they maintain citizenship, passport number, and gender
  • USCIS also needs the beneficiary’s educational information

What’s Next? Steps & Actions

If your H-1B registration is selected in the lottery, then your sponsor will need to file an I-129 petition on your behalf. This petition must include the necessary filing fees as outlined above and any supporting documentation to reinforce your eligibility for the H-1B.

Next, the officer will examine your case and determine whether you qualify for the H-1B. If your H-1B petition fails this stage, it may be denied, requiring more extensive work to fix. If it passes, then USCIS will notify you, and you will be able to start working on October 1, 2021.

Understanding Your H1B Status

In the online portal, there will be one of four statuses indicated next to your case. They are explained below:

  • Selected: If you see the word selected as your status, then that means USCIS has chosen your H-1B petition in the lottery, and your sponsor is now able to file an I-129. Be aware that they may be staggered filing deadlines to different registrants to ease the flow of processing.
  • Submitted: This status means you have successfully submitted your petition. It does not mean you have been selected yet, and it can have this status until as late as the end of the fiscal year. All registrations that have not been denied will either read selected or submitted next to their status.
  • Not Selected: The lottery did not pick your registration. It will read this status until Oct. 1, 2021.
  • Denied: If a sponsor submits more than one registration for the same beneficiary, then 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, then it’s time to file the complete H-1B petition with all accompanying evidence. We recommend you do this alongside a qualified attorney to ensure all fields and documents are properly 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.

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 is handling your case, then the first three letters will be LIN. If the Texas Service Center is handling your case, then the letters will be SRC.  EAC indicates the Vermont service center. The last center is WAC for the California Service Center. The next numbers are the year, followed by the day, and then the case number is the last 5 digits. An example number would look like SRC-15-021-93822.

Masters Versus Regular H-B Cap

You might be wondering what the difference is between the master’s advanced degree cap and the regular cap. To qualify for the master’s cap, the applicant must have a United States master’s degree or higher.

Note that only having an associate’s degree or bachelor’s will not make you eligible. Likewise, if you’ve obtained a master’s degree from a foreign or unaccredited institute, this will not qualify you for the cap. You should stay up-to-date with the latest news about your institution to ensure that it is still accredited.

The advantage of being entered into the master’s cap is that you will essentially have two separate opportunities to be selected for a visa.

The current ordering system for the master’s and the regular cap has been reversed. Rather than having the master’s cap be performed first, the regular cap will be performed first to increase the percentage of master’s registrations selected.

The way this happens has to do with probability. When the regular cap is conducted, all registrations will be involved, including the master’s registrations. This means that, inevitably, some master’s registrations will be selected in the regular cap. Then, when the master’s cap is conducted afterward, there will be fewer master’s registrations in the competition since some have already been selected in the regular cap. This greatly increases the chances of a single master’s registration being selected. Once we know the total number of H-1B petitions submitted, we’ll be able to determine your exact lottery likelihood of being selected.

H1B Visa 2021-2022 Fees

H-1B Visa Fees

Each H-1B registration will require the payment of a $10 registration fee that will not be refunded if the registration is not selected 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 were not selected.

However, if the registration is selected, then Form I-129 will need to be subsequently filed, and the following H-1B visa fees will need to be included:

Fee

Amount

Responsible for Fee

Registration Fee

$10

Employer

Premium Processing (optional

$2,500

Employer or Employee

Public Law 114-113 Fee

$4000

Employer

Basic Filing Fee

$460

Employer

USCIS Anti-Fraud Fee

$500

Employer

ACWIA Education and Training Fee

$750 (less than 25 employees)  

$1500 (more than 25 employees)

Employer

Attorney Fee

Variable

Employer

Our attorney fees are as follows:

  • Tier One: $550 for the initial H-1B registration process, which includes all preliminary case analyses required to file the case such as SOC, duties, documents, educational check, evaluations, if necessary, FEIN, etc.
  • Tier Two: $1,900 will be due if the case is selected in the lottery for filing, which includes all form/support letter preparation plus case filing within the timeframe
  • Tier Three: $500–$1,500 will be the cost of a Request For Evidence (RFE) response, should one later be issued on the case

Please note that H-1B petitioners have the option to complete the initial registration themselves. Again, note that if the registration is completed incorrectly, the petition may later be denied. Once the petition has been confirmed as being selected in the lottery, employers may choose to retain our firm for the complete filing.  If that route is selected instead, the legal fee for preparing the H-1b filing will be $2300. This fee excludes the cost for a response to any possible RFE that USCIS may issue on the case and any H-4 application that may be required.  The fee for an RFE response will remain between $500–$1600, depending upon the complexity of the RFE.

H-1B Lottery 2021-2022 Filing Tips

Take a look at these helpful tips for filing your petition correctly and maximizing your chances of selection.

1. Timing is Key

H1B Visa 2021 Timeline

 

The H-1B is unique in that there are specific dates that you must respect to qualify. Take note of the following important dates for the lottery system:

March 9th: Sponsors can submit H-1B registrations for their beneficiaries through their accounts at 12 p.m. Eastern Time.

March 25th: The USCIS will stop accepting registrations at 12 p.m. Eastern Time.

March 31st: The USCIS will change the status of the submitted registrations to reflect the lottery results.

April 1st: This is the earliest date that H1B cap-subject petition may be filed.

April 1st – June 30th: Filing window for cases selected

October 1st: The beneficiaries of approved H-1B petitions can begin to 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 greatly 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.

3. Avoid Common Mistakes

To ensure that your H-1B petition has the best chance of being approved, avoid these common pitfalls that tend to result in rejections:

  • If the employer’s FEIN for an LCA is not recognized in the USCIS iCert system, then a pre-verification must occur. This can delay your petition approval by several days.
  • Triple check the service center that will be receiving your petition. Sending it to the wrong center can seriously delay approval.
  • Be sure to use an approved delivery method to submit your petition. USPS, FedEx, and UPS are all bonded delivery services that can be used.
  • Work with your immigration attorney to make sure that your job description is thoroughly described in your petition.
  • If your fee payments have been combined into one single check, you may experience delays in processing. Be sure to write separate checks for each payment.
  • Make sure that your I-129 start date is correct and does not contain any mistakes or typos.
  • Many 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.
  • Make 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.

4. Consider Alternatives to the H1B 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.

  • If you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen, the TN visa may be a better option. This visa class has a limited list of qualified occupations but offers easier application processes and unlimited renewals.
  • The J-1 visa allows people from various occupations to participate in a program that would sponsor them. These include, but are not limited to, students, doctors, nannies, camp counselors, and professors.
  • Under 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 a good way to start a new branch or subsidiary in the U.S.
  • The 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 Visa to Green Card

The process of going from an H-1B visa to a green card should remain the same for the 2021 season. If you are not aware of how to make this adjustment, here are the basic steps:

  • Decide which green card works best for your situation
  • Have your employer obtain a PERM Labor Certification for you (unless you are applying for the EB-1 or EB-2 NIW)
  • Have that sponsoring employer file an I-140 petition on your behalf
  • Wait until your petition has been approved and your priority date is current
  • File an I-485 to adjust your status to legal permanent resident

Even though there are no changes to this process for 2021, it would be wise to keep an eye on the USCIS news site or this blog to see any information that would impact your green card case. More H-1B predictions may be published in the coming months as the season gets underway.

H-1B Lottery 2021 Predictions: FAQ

If I file for a beneficiary in the master’s cap under the assumption that they will have earned their qualifying degree by that time, but they fail to do so, and my registration has been selected, then what happens?

If the beneficiary fails to earn their qualifying master’s degree or higher when the H-1B petition is filed, then the petition will be denied or rejected.

“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 that was marked as an invalid duplicate?

If USCIS deems your H-1B registration as duplicates, they will be marked as invalid and you cannot appeal to it. 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.

How will I know if My H-1B Registration Has Been Selected?

On March 31st, 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 on whether to approve it or deny it. 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. 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 approach to respond to RFEs together.

Is there a grace period if I lose my H1B job?

If you lose your job under H-1B status, you are granted a 60-day grace period that starts on the day that your H1B sponsored employer no longer employs you. You can either find a new sponsor, change your immigration status, or leave the United States completely in this time frame.

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