H-1B Lottery

Tens of thousands of skilled immigrants petition for the highly sought-after H-1B visa each year. Last year during the H-1B lottery, USCIS received over 300,000 registrations. Of those, USCIS did not select 193,396 (64%)  and chose 115,217 (37%).  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. We’ve outlined how to prepare for the H-1B application deadline 2022 with our best filing tips, H-1B predictions, common mistakes, H-1B registration, and more to ensure the highest chance of securing approval.

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.  

The registration for the highly coveted H1B visa lottery was conducted between March 1 and March 18, 2022. While there is no official announcement made by USCIS yet, attorneys and petitioners are receiving email notifications to check their registration accounts for selection notices. A sample notification is posted below. The email is being sent from [email protected]  to the employer’s and/or attorney’s email address that was used for registration. (Updated 3/28/22)

h1b sample notification

How to Prepare for H-1B Visa Lottery 2022-23

Since USCIS starts accepting registrations for the H-1B visa 2022 lottery at noon EST on March 1, 2022, you would benefit significantly by beginning preparations sooner than later.

H-1B 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 1, 2022, 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 18, 2022, 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. 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, 2022. Be sure to read our full guide on the H-1B visa to find out more.

H-1B Visa Lottery 2022 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 1, 2022, and before 12 p.m. EST on March 18, 2022. If you submit your petition outside 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, 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 numerous registrations submitted by numerous 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 USCIS chooses your H-1B registration,  your sponsor needs 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 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, 2022.

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:

  • Selected: If you see the word “Selected” as your status, that means USCIS chose your H-1B petition in the lottery, and your sponsor is can file an I-129. Be aware that they may be staggered filing deadlines to different registrants to ease the processing flow.
  • Submitted: 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.
  • Not Selected: The lottery did not pick your registration. It will read this status until October 1, 2022.
  • Denied: 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.

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.

H-1B Selection Notices Sent Out

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 has been changed for privacy) you’ll see it has the title Fiscal Year 2022 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 H1B petition in. Be aware, no other beneficiary apart from the one identified in the i-797C may have a petition submitted for. The petition should also include the start date of October 1, 2021.

h1b selection notice

Masters Versus Regular H-1B Cap

You might be wondering the difference 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. It would be best if you stayed 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 for the H-1B visa lottery is that you will essentially have two different opportunities to be selected for a visa. The current ordering system is the regular cap first followed by the master’s cap. For that reason, the chances of getting an H-1B visa in 2022 are higher for someone with a master’s registration.

The way this happens has to do with probability. All registrations will be involved when the regular cap is conducted, including the master’s registrations. This means that, inevitably, USCIS will select some master’s registrations 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 dramatically 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.

H-1B Application Deadline 2022 and Filing Tips

Take a look at these H-1B 2022 application deadlines and helpful tips for filing your petition correctly while maximizing your chances of selection.

1. Timing is Key

h-1b lottery timeline

The H-1B is unique in that there are specific dates that you must respect to qualify. Take note of the following H-1B 2022 application deadline dates for the lottery system:

February 21: Employers, attornies, or representatives can register their myUSCIS accounts at noon EST on February 21, 2022.

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

March 18: 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: 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.

3. 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:

  • If 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.
  • 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 you can use.
  • Work with your immigration attorney to ensure that your job description is thoroughly described in your petition.
  • Combining your fee payments into one check may incur processing delays. Be sure to write separate checks for each payment.
  • Ensure 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 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.

  • If you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen, the 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.
  • The 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.
  • 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 an excellent 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 Lottery 2022–2023 Season: Predictions

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

H-1B Lottery 2022 Prediction I: Registrations Will Increase

The H-1B registration system makes it easy for employers and candidates to participate in the lottery. With the registration system’s success over the past two years, we predict H-1b registrations will increase for the 2022–2023 season. With the expected increase in registrations, we also predict that H-1b lottery odds for selection will decrease.

H-1B Lottery 2022 Prediction II: Chance for a Second Lottery

Last year there were three lottery rounds, so there is a strong likelihood of a second-round and possibly third round again 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 increased registrations.

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, then they won’t get an H-1B visa.

H-1B Lottery 2022 Prediction III: Premium Processing Will Be Available

We expect USCIS will make premium processing available since you can file an H-1B within 90 days after the H-1B registration selection notice. The premium processing fee is $2,500.

Important: Interviews Temporarily Waived

Consular officers are authorized temporarily (through December 31, 2022) to waive in-person interviews for some work visas, including H-1Bs, due to the pandemic and reduced processing capacity. *Embassies and consulates may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis and dependent upon local conditions. Check embassy and consulate websites for more detailed information.

Possible H-1B Program Reforms in 2022

Expect proposed H-1B changes in May 2022. USCIS has made mention of amending certain aspects of the H-1B program, including:

  • Redefining the H-1B employer-employee relationship
  • Establishing new guidelines for employer site visits
  • Clarify rules for F-1 students awaiting a change of status to H-1B.
  • Clarify the requirement that an amended or new H-1B visa petition be filed if there are material changes to employment, including a new worksite location.

The employer-employee relationship determines whether a company qualifies as a U.S. employer and is eligible to use H-1B employees. The Department of Homeland Security wants to enact a more stringent definition and tighten up the site visit guidelines to deter fly-by-night hiring agencies from abusing the program and being fraudulent. DHS would also like the rule to raise the prevailing wage rates for H-1B and green card holders this year. They say the proposed increase will be lower than the 40% offered by the Trump administration and guarantee U.S. companies do not underpay foreign workers. Currently, Republicans are trying to introduce legislation in the House of Representatives to block some of these changes, set a wage floor for H-1B visas at $110,000, and eliminate the OPT program. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on President Biden’s proposed H-1B reforms.

H-1B Lottery Visa 2022-2023 Fees

H-1B Visa Fees

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:

Fee

Amount

Responsible for Fee

Registration Fee

$10

Employer

Premium Processing (optional)

$2,500

Employer or Employee

Public Law 114-113 Fee

$4,000

Employer

Basic Filing Fee

$460

Employer

USCIS Anti-Fraud Fee

$500

Employer

ACWIA Education and Training Fee

$750 (less than 25 employees)  

$1,500 (more than 25 employees)

Employer

Attorney Fee

Variable

Employer

VisaNation Law Group’s attorney fees are as follows:

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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. But, again, note that if you complete the registration incorrectly, USCIS may deny the petition. Once USCIS confirms the petition has been selected in the lottery, employers may retain VisaNation Law Group for the complete filing. If that route is chosen 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 required. The fee for an RFE response will remain between $500–$1600, depending upon the complexity of the RFE.

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 2022 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 2022, 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. In addition, more H-1B predictions may be published in the coming months as the season gets underway.

3 Reasons to Hire an H-1B Lottery Attorney

Due to the increased registrations we expect, getting an H-1B visa in 2022 will be challenging. Ensure you file all your paperwork accurately to avoid delays in the process. Here are three reasons to hire a qualified H-1B visa attorney.

  1. You will want to make sure that your registration is filed correctly. This means it correctly falls into either the regular or master’s cap. USCIS will deny registrations incorrectly submitted into the master’s cap. Because the rules surrounding admission into the master’s cap can be tricky, it’s best to have help.
  2. 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 them obtain an H-1B visa this year.
  3. Once USCIS selects a registration, the case has only just begun. With denials and RFEs on the rise, it is essential to have an expert in your corner when the USCIS processes your H-1B petition.

Wondering what your chances of getting an H-1B visa 2022 are? Contract us for a free consultation to find out.

H-1B Lottery 2022 Predictions: FAQ

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.

How VisaNation Law Group Can Help

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VisaNation Law Group attorneys have an excellent track record of gaining approvals in complex H-1B cases, including those sponsored by startup companies. VisaNation Law Group attorneys offer free consultations to specific individuals and businesses looking to retain a law firm for employment-based immigration petitions as a courtesy to prospective clients.