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What is the Process for H-1B Cap Registration?

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The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. This visa category requires that the beneficiary (the foreign worker) have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a relevant specialty. Each year there is an H-1B lottery for 85,000 available slots.

What is the H-1B cap?

There are a limited number of new H1B petitions that can be adjudicated each year. This is often referred to as the H-1B cap. Each year there are 85,000 total slots available for new H-1B applicants. 20,000 of those slots are reserved for applicants with U.S. Master’s degrees or higher.

What is the H-1B lottery?

As mentioned above, there are only 85,000 slots each year for new H-1B applicants and the number of applicants far exceeds the number of available H-1B visas. In 2021, there were 308,613 registrations submitted. In order to select from the pool of applicants, the U.S. government runs a lottery each year.

What is the H-1B electronic registration process?

Starting in 2020, the government implemented an electronic registration system. This system allows prospective employers to create an online account and submit registrations electronically for individual H-1B beneficiaries. There is a $10 fee per registration. For FY 2023, employers will be able to submit registrations between March 1, 2022 at 12:00pm EST and March 18, 2022 at 12:00 pm EST. Once the registration period closes on March 18, the government will run the lottery. Prospective employers will receive notification electronically by March 31, 2022 to inform them as to whether their registration was selected.

What are the next steps if my registration is selected?

If you are selected in the lottery, this means the employer can proceed with preparing an H-1B petition and submitting it to USCIS for adjudication within 90 days. Being selected in the lottery does not guarantee approval of the H1B petition.

What are the next steps if my registration is not selected?

If your registration is not selected and you want to remain in the U.S., you should meet with your employer and/or an immigration attorney to discuss your options. If you are a student, you could investigate whether you are eligible for STEM OPT. You should also talk through potential options to see if any other work visas may be available for you, such as an E-3 visa (for Australians), a TN visa (for Canadian and Mexicans) or other options, such as an O-1 (if you have extraordinary ability in your field ) or E-2 visa, (if you are interested in opening your own business).

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