Employer’s At-a-Glance Guide to USCIS’ New H-1B Lottery Process


The H-1B visa is one of the most critical U.S. work visas as it allows certain professionals performing in a specialty occupation to obtain a 3-year work visa that can be renewed up to six years. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) approves 85,000 cap-subject H-1B visa petitions annually, with 20,000 reserved for U.S. master’s degree positions and 65,000 for bachelor degree positions. Due to high demand, a lottery is necessary to select the 85,000 H-1B visa holders.

On December 6th, 2019, USCIS confirmed that it will be using a new online H-1B registration system to select the lottery winners before the H-1B applications are filed. This is a major change and creates a more efficient process where employers must register applicants first and only those applicants who are selected submit a full application. The registration fee is a nominal $10 so it is possible we will see a surge in applications.

The following guide provides employers and Human Resources professionals with an at-a-glance look at the new H-1B lottery process.

This lottery only applies to cap-subject foreign nationals who are subject to the annual limitation which excludes universities and certain research institutions as well as others who have already been counted.

For more information REGISTER HERE for our January 8th, 2020 H-1B Webinar.

­New H-1B Lottery Process At-a-Glance

START NOWInitiate H-1B sponsorship processDecember 2019 to March 20, 2020
Once the H-1B process is initiated, your WR attorney & team will work with you to collect the requisite information and documents to prepare each employee’s H-1B petition for submission to USCIS. We will also file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor.
NEW STEP!!!Register your H-1B sponsored foreign nationalsSunday March 1 to Friday March 20, 2020The employer will now be required to log onto USCIS’s new online H-1B registration system and submit the following information about each foreign national:

• Full name
• Date of birth
• Country of birth
• Citizenship
• Passport number
• Gender
• Employer attestation that there is a bona fide job offer and it intends to file an H-1B petition-meant to deter companies from gaming the system

The employer will also need to pay a $10 government filing fee per foreign national.
WR will provide further detailed instructions about this process.
File petitions for workers selected in the H-1B lottery
Following March 21, 2020
Once confirmation of an employee’s selection in the H-1B lottery has been received, the H-1B petition can be submitted to USCIS. Employers will have only 90 days following the lottery to submit the petition.

USCIS may take 15 days to several months to process the petition depending on whether premium processing or regular processing is allowed or used.
Onboard approved H-1B workers
October 1, 2020Employers will need to verify their new employees' H-1B work authorization on Form I-9 within 3 days of their start date. The earliest start date will be October 1, 2020, the first day of FY2021.

For more information, read WR’s H-1B Lottery FAQ.

For questions, contact your WR attorney visalaw@wolfsdorf.com  or 1-800-VISA-LAW.

This post originally appeared on Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Charina Garcia is a partner at Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP and manages the firm’s Northern California – Oakland office. She represents and advises many Fortune 500 and start-up companies, as well as individuals on both employment and family-based immigration matters. Ms. Garcia is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). She has served on the Executive Board of the Northern California Chapter of AILA and was the Vice-Chair of the AILA National Liaison Committee for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s California Service Center. In addition, Ms. Garcia has served on the Board of Directors for Filipino Advocates for Justice (formerly Filipinos for Affirmative Action) and has previously served on the Board for the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC). She was also a member of the faculty of Law Review CLE, Sterling Education Services and Lorman Education Services, which provides continuing education seminars.

Bernard Wolfsdorf is the past National President of the 15,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and is Managing Partner of the top-rated Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP immigration law firm. The firm is known worldwide for providing exceptional quality legal services. With over 80 professionals including 18 lawyers, and offices in Los Angeles, New York and Shanghai, the firm provides high-quality, excellent-value global immigration services. Mr. Wolfsdorf specializes in a broad range of immigration areas, including business and EB-5 investment visas and he also handles the full range of global immigration matters.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.