Written by Adam Kneeland
The start of a new year means the start of a new H-1B cap lottery season and the time to begin preparations for this year's H-1B cap lottery registration. But what exactly is the H-1B cap lottery, when does it happen, and how can you register employees?
The registration process
USCIS limits the number of new H-1Bs approved each year to 85,000 (20,000 of which are set aside for candidates who have the minimum of a master's degree from a U.S., not-for-profit educational institution); they do so by means of a random lottery selection that determines exactly who can have an H-1B petition submitted on their behalf.
Any prospective H-1B employee who has not already been selected in a cap lottery and subsequently granted an approved H-1B must be registered in the lottery and selected before an H-1B petition can be filed on their behalf. (N.B., even candidates who have previously worked in H-1B status for a cap-exempt entity like a university must be registered and selected in the cap before a non-exempt entity can submit a petition on their behalf.)
This lottery is currently an entirely online process; employers enter basic info about each candidate into the registration website, and random selections are then made from the pool of names entered.
Below is an overview of this year's important dates:
- February 21, 2023 – New employer registrant accounts can be created in registration system
- March 1, 2023 - USCIS registration system opens for submissions at 12 PM EST; deadline to provide registration information to our office if you would like to use our registration services
- March 17, 2023 – USCIS registration system closes at 12 PM EST
- March 31, 2023 – USCIS notifies petitioners & attorneys about initial cap selections
- We strongly recommend employers have list of prospective employees they want to register by March 1; after the registration window closes in late March, no new candidates can be entered until the next year's cap lottery.
- Registration requires only basic information about the prospective employer and each potential employee registered, and no information about the position offered is required.
- You can only register a candidate once; duplicate entries disqualify a candidate from selection entirely.
- There is a USCIS fee of $10 per registered candidate; there is no limit to the number of names an employer can register, but USCIS expects that employers will register only as many people as they intend to employ.
- The chances of selection obviously vary depending on how many candidates are registered, but our office has seen an average selection rate of roughly 30%.
- USCIS will, if needed, hold additional selection periods to meet the quota; if needed, these additional selections usually take place in early summer and fall, but they are not guaranteed.
- The earliest start date allowed for a cap approval is October 1 (i.e., the start of the following fiscal year)
The Law Offices of James D. Eiss offers registration services for a fee charged on a per-candidate basis (note: this fee is in addition to USCIS's $10 registration fee). While our clients are not obligated to retain us to file H-1B petitions for selected candidates, we do discount the fee charged for our registration services from the fee we charge for preparing an H-1B petition for a selected candidate. (Our office still charges the full fee to file a petition for a selected candidate that an employer registered independently.)
The Law Offices of James D. Eiss offers cap registration services and H-1B petition preparation and submission services. Contact us today to learn more.