In 2020, USCIS (the agency that oversees U.S. immigration) revised the process of registering foreign national employees for the H-1B lottery. The old process required employers to submit the full petition in order to register an employee for the lottery. Starting 2020, USCIS implemented electronic registration process for companies where an employee can simply be registered with a few personal details. Once selected in the lottery, a full petition is then filed to get a visa for the employee.
Since registering an employee for the lottery has become simpler and inexpensive, the number of registrations has gone up significantly.
Let's look at some trends based on the recently published numbers by USCIS.
Number of Registered Companies Decreased by 8%
The number of Employers who registered their foreign national employees for the lottery decreased from over 40K in the year 2020 to over 37K in the year 2021. Does it mean that fewer employers are willing to sponsor work visas? We think that this might simply be the result of companies finally understanding how the system works and not creating duplicate employer registrations.
Number of Registrations Increased by 13%
Even though the number of registered employer went down, the number of registered foreign national employees increased by 13% from the year 2020 and by 54% from year 2019. We attribute this increase to the ease of registering an employee.
Number of Selections Decreased by 7%
USCIS utilizes historical data on approvals, denials, revocations and other factors to estimate the number of selections needed to meet the H-1B cap for a fiscal year. Based on their predictions, USCIS selected 7% fewer registration in 2021 (for FY2022) than they had in 2020 (for FY 2021).
USCIS Might Always Run A Second Lottery
USCIS has run two lotteries since the last two years. The split between the two rounds in 2020 (FY 2021) was 85% (lottery 1) and 15% (lottery 2), while it was 75% and 25% respectively in 2021 (FY 2022). Given the fact that the agency picked a higher number of registrations in 2021's second lottery, we think that the two lotteries process is here to stay. We might see a 3:1 split between the two rounds next year as well.
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