The H-1B lottery season is upon us. Here's all you want to know about the lottery process and beyond. We also talk about some things that you may have heard through online grapevines.
What's changing this year (2024 | FY2025)?
1: Everyone gets a fair shot
The new law (announced Jan 30, 2024) will give all registrants a fair shot at the lottery.
Now, even if someone is registered into the lottery 5 times by 5 different employers, they will only be put into the lottery once. Yes! You read that correctly. Just once.
So, no more gaming the system. USCIS is calling it a "beneficiary centric" system and rightly so.
What happens if 5 employers register for me and I get picked?
If you do get picked in the lottery, then all the employers will receive the selection notice and you can work with one of them to file your petition.
2: You need a valid passport to register for the lottery
3: You can request your H-1B to start at a later date
4. USCIS can now decline or revoke your H-1B petition
What's not changing this year?
The government registration fee is still staying at $10.
H-1B LOTTERY PROCESS 2024 | FY2025
Expand each step to learn more
STEP 1: Register for H-1B Lottery
Lottery Registration Opens: March 06
Lottery Registration Ends: March 22
USCIS opens the registration process in March. At this time, the attorney representing the employer (and not the employee) will work with the company's point of contact (HR manager or Hiring Manager) to register the employee/s for the H-1B lottery.
Note - if the company has never been registered for the lottery before, then the attorney needs to first register the company with the Department of Labor (DOL) and register it for the lottery after registration confirmation from the DOL. The DOL's registration confirmation takes a few days.
STEP 2: Lottery selection announcement
IF SELECTED IN THE LOTTERY
FILE H-1B PETITION BY: June 30
For the employees that are selected, USCIS sends out instructions to download the I-797 (Approval Notice) with the lottery result and outlining the next steps.
NOTE: filing early does nothing to increase your chances of approval.
IF NOT SELECTED IN THE LOTTERY
Status stays as "submitted" until: Sep 30
STEP 3: File Labor Condition Application (LCA)
What is the LCA?
The Labor Condition Application or the LCA is required to prove to the U.S. government that the foreign national employee will be paid a wage that is above the Prevailing Wage (PW) published for the position. The prevailing wage is decided by the Department of Labor (DOL) and published for specific job categories. The prevailing wage depends on -
the location of work for the employee (state, county and metropolitan statistical area)
and the level of experience required to do the job
The prevailing wage recommendation is made by the attorney for a job category that he/she thinks best suits the employee's job description and role. The employer acknowledges to pay above the prevailing wage during the labor certification process.
Note - the proposed wage for H-1B that meets the criteria of prevailing wage does not have to be paid to the employee until October 01 or from the date of the start of their H-1B status.
How long does the LCA approval take?
Once the LCA has been prepared and uploaded to DOL's website, the employer needs to post the LCA within 24 hours, based on DOL's regulations, for 10 consecutive days. In the meantime, the DOL should approve the LCA. It is only after 10 days of the LCA being posted and removed, can the H-1B petition be filed with USCIS.
STEP 4: Submit H-1B Petition
STEP 5: Track H-1B progress
Once the petition makes it to USCIS, the agency issues a notice stating the case number that can be used to track the status of the case. The notice is sent to the attorney and the employer.
Tracking the case: You should be able to track the status of the use through USCIS' website. As the beneficiary/employee you can create an account with USCIS to receive email alerts on the case.
STEP 6: Decision
STEP 7: Starting on H-1B
Track immigration cases with more transparency and support.
Get updates on your cases, expirations and compliance.
IN CASE YOU WONDERED.......
Why does H-1B selection happen through lottery?
The short answer is because there are more people applying for the H-1B visa than there are visas available. The U.S. government opens 85,000 new H-1B visas every year and there are nearly four times visa applications that are received. So, because of the lack of a better way to pick applicants, USCIS resorts to running a random selection process. To learn more, you can read our article about the process and an employee's odds of getting picked.
Myth 1: The H-1B Lottery is not random
Myth 2: The H-1B Lottery selection depends on an employee's salary
Myth 3: The H-1B Lottery selection depends on the employee's location
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a WayLit-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.