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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has announced that the H-1B electronic registration period for Fiscal Year 2024 will be open at noon Eastern Standard Time on March 1, 2023 and run through noon Eastern Standard Time on March 17, 2023. During this period, prospective petitioners and their representatives will be able to submit their registrations for potential H-1B candidates.
Employers should take this opportunity to review their current U.S. workforce and prospective hires, identify any potential H-1B candidates, and ensure their lottery submission is timely prepared and submitted. Potential H-1B candidates can include existing U.S. employees in another immigration status, global employees who currently sit abroad, or prospective employment candidates who require work authorization to assume employment in the United States.
For U.S. employers, the H-1B visa is one of the few options for foreign national employees to gain temporary permission to live and work in the United States for a qualifying U.S. employer. H-1B status is reserved for employees who will be employed in a ‘specialty occupation’ – meaning a professional role requiring at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a specific field of study.
Given the very limited spectrum of U.S. employment immigration options available, H-1B authorization is quite coveted but at the same time subject to annual numerical limitations. Specifically, each fiscal year, 85,000 new H-1B visas are made available, including 20,000 H-1Bs reserved for holders of U.S. Master’s degrees or higher. Typically, the demand for H-1B visas greatly exceeds the supply. Hence, USCIS has implemented an electronic lottery system, wherein not all submissions will be selected for further adjudication. As a result of the lottery system, it could take applicants several tries over the course of years to eventually be selected.
Orrick’s Global Employment team stands ready to assist with H-1B assessments and registrations, including helping companies avoid common mistakes that can lead to registration rejections and to meet key deadlines. Please reach out to our team with any questions or for further information.