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USCIS Announces New H1B Cap Lottery Process and Schedule for 2024

Posted by Karol Brown | Feb 07, 2024 | 0 Comments

Summary of H1B Cap Lottery Process for 2024

  • The H1B cap registration period will open on March 6, 2024 and close on March 22, 2024. Employers must submit all H1B cap registrations online during this period.

  • The US Citizenship and Immigration Service ("USCIS") will use a "beneficiary-centric" H1B cap registration system for this year's H1B cap registration period. This change was implemented to prevent fraud with multiple related companies filing for the same beneficiary to increase their chances of being selected.

  • Employers can register or update their organizational account with the new USCIS system starting on February 28, 2024 through the registration period on March 22, 2024.
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  • USCIS will select beneficiaries for the H1B Cap Lottery and notify sponsoring employers by March 31, 2024.

  • Employers have 90 days to submit H1B petitions, starting on April 1, 2024.

  • H1B visas can start on October 1, 2024 and be valid up to 3 years.

What is the H1B Visa?

The H1B visa is for foreign nationals who have earned at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent in a specialized field for jobs in the United States that require a bachelor's degree or higher as a minimum requirement. Congress has decided to limit the number of H1B visas available each year to 65,000, plus an additional 20,000 for people who have graduated with a master's or higher degree from a U.S. university. If an employer wants to hire a foreign national who does not currently have H1B status, the employer must register the foreign national in the H1B cap lottery. This H1B cap lottery is conducted each year in March and April, for visas that become available in October. 

How does an employer register to participate in the H1B Cap Lottery?

USCIS has created a new organizational account system for employers to participate in the H1B cap lottery system. That new online system will be become operational on February 28, 2024 at 9 am Pacific. Employers must create new accounts or upgrade their existing "registrant" accounts between February 28 and March 22 to participate in this year's H1B cap lottery. You can authorize an immigration attorney to submit registrations for your company, or you can submit registrations yourself for your company. We expect to get more information about the new organizational system in the next several weeks.

How does an employer register a prospective foreign employee for the H1B Cap Lottery?

An employer must have an organizational account with the USCIS to register foreign nationals for the H1B Cap Lottery. Employers who want to hire a foreign national on H1B visa may register them for the H1B Cap Lottery between 9 am Pacific on March 6, 2024 and 9 am Pacific on March 22, 2024. The USCIS announced the new H1B registration process on January 30, 2024. USCIS will select beneficiaries who can file for the H1B visa using a random computerized lottery from those registered by employers. This year, the agency will use a "beneficiary centric" selection process, so that each beneficiary will have an equal chance of being selected within the regular cap or master's cap lottery.

What are the deadlines for this year's H1B Cap Lottery system?

Below shows a timeline of the H1B cap lottery process for 2024, for the Fiscal Year 2025 H1B visas.

Timeline showing H1B Cap Lottery Schedule for 2024
H1B Cap Lottery Schedule for 2024
 

When can an employer register a foreign national for the H1B Cap Lottery?

The USCIS will allow employers to register a foreign national for the H1B cap lottery starting on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 at 9 am Pacific time. Employers can draft, review, sign, and submit registrations for the H1B cap lottery from March 6 through 9 am Pacific on March 22, 2024. No registrations will be accepted after 9 am Pacific on Friday, March 22 . 

What is the fee for an employer to register a beneficiary for the H1B cap lottery?

The fee to register a foreign national for the H1B cap lottery in 2024 will remain $10 per beneficiary. The USCIS announced an increase in the registration fee to $215 per beneficiary. However, this increased fee will not take effect until next year's cap lottery season.

What information will an employer need to register a foreign national for the H1B cap lottery system?

Employers will need the following information to register a foreign national for the H1B cap lottery system in 2024: 

  • Full legal name;

  • Gender;

  • Date of birth;

  • Country of birth;

  • Country of citizenship;

  • Valid passport information (NOTE: The beneficiary must use the same passport for all registrations), and;

  • Whether the beneficiary is eligible for the U.S. advanced-degree cap, or will be eligible for the advanced-degree cap at the time an H-1B cap petition is filed on the beneficiary's behalf.

Employers should begin to collect this information now, so that you are ready to file the registrations during the cap lottery season of March 6 to March 22. 

How will the USCIS select beneficiaries for the H1B cap lottery?

The USCIS will switch to a "beneficiary-centric" selection process, rather than a "registration-centric" selection process. This means that each individual will have the same chance of being selected in the H1B master's cap or in the H1B regular cap process, regardless of how many employers file a registration. This new selection process is designed to prevent fraud and misuse of the system and create more fairness in the selection process. 

Because the USCIS is selecting based on the beneficiary, employers will need information about the foreign national's passport or valid travel document to submit their registration. The passport information will be unique identifier used to select a person in the H1B cap lottery system. Each beneficiary will be entered only one time in the H1B lottery, even if multiple registrations were filed on their behalf. 

We expect that the USCIS will receive many more H1B cap registrations than the 65,000 regular H1B cap and 20,000 master's H1B cap visas available. Once the registration is complete, the USCIS will first select enough beneficiaries from all registrations to meet the regular cap. They will then conduct a second lottery of just those registered in the master's H1B cap to fill that quote. 

Once USCIS completes the lottery selection process for the H1B visa, the agency will notify employers and their immigration attorneys if their registered beneficiaries are selected by March 31, 2024. If more than one employer filed for that beneficiary, each potential employer that filed a registration will be notified and be able to file an H1B petition for that beneficiary. 

When will employers have to file an H1B petition for beneficiaries selected in the H1B cap lottery?

USCIS will begin to accept H1B cap petitions for selected beneficiaries on Monday, April 1, 2024. Employers have up to 90 days to file an H1B petition for selected beneficiaries. This means that the filing period for H1B cap petitions will be open at least through June 30, 2024. Employers can file their petitions at any time during this period.

If a selected beneficiary is on F1 Optional Practical Training, employers should file the H1B petition before the expiration date on their Employment Authorization Document ("EAD") if the EAD expires between April 1 and October 1, 2024. This ensures that the beneficiary's work authorization is extended through the "cap-gap" provisions through the October 1 start date of the H1B visa. 

Should employers use the online filing process available through USCIS to file H1B petitions?

USCIS has announced a new online filing process will be available for both cap and non-cap H1B petitions. However, we strongly recommend that employers not use the online filing system for cap-subject H1B petitions. Online filing has not been tested and will experience high volume during the H1B cap season. The online filing process also has serious limitations and requires manual data entry. We believe that the new USCIS online filing system has too many potential risks for use with this time-sensitive filing of H1B cap petitions. 

What are the filing fees if a beneficiary is selected for the H1B cap lottery?

USCIS recently announced an increase in filing that start on April 1, 2024. Employers filing for the H1B cap petitions will have to pay these higher fees if selected in the lottery. Below is a summary of the new fees that will be charged for an H1B petition.
 

USCIS H1B Registration and Petition Fees

On or After April 1, 2024

Registration for beneficiary

$10

Form I-129 for H1B Visa

$780

$460 for small employers* and non-profits**

Anti-Fraud Fee for Initial Filing of H1B

$500

ACWIA Training Fee

$1500 

$750 for small employers

Asylum Program Fee

$600

$300 for small employers*

$0 for non-profits**

Form I-907 Premium Processing Fee (optional, requires decision in 15 business days)

$2,805

* Small employers are defined as firms or organizations with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees in the United States, including any affiliates and subsidiaries.

**Nonprofits are organizations classified under the Internal Revenue Code as Section 501(c)(3) or organizations considered governmental research organizations under H-1B immigration regulations.

 

Who can answer questions about the H1B registration and petition process?

You can contact World One Law Group anytime for answers to your questions about the US immigration process. We offer free consultations to employers who are seeking work visas for their employees. You can call 425-250-8110 or email us at [email protected] and we can set up a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney.

About the Author

Karol Brown

Managing Attorney

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