The H-1B visa process is a crucial pathway for foreign professionals seeking employment in the United States. This non-immigrant visa allows employers to temporarily hire skilled foreign nationals in specialty occupations (i.e., occupations that normally require a bachelor’s degree in related specific fields of study). As the H-1B filing season approaches, employers and skilled foreign workers should prepare for a critical period that provides the opportunity to apply for an H-1B visa through a time sensitive process. Essential dates in this H-1B season dictate when registrations open, close, and when USCIS conducts the lottery and announces results. Adhering to specific dates within the H-1B timeline is essential for a smooth and successful application process. The key milestones for the upcoming filing processes can be expected based on USCIS announcements and past registration patterns as follows:
*Availability of organizational account creation and registration window dates have been announced by USCIS. Filing window dates are based on USCIS’ previous years’ H-1B filing window.
1. Pre-Registration Phase
In the time leading up to the official commencement of the H-1B process, the pre-registration phase plays a pivotal role in setting the foundation for a successful visa application. This period typically unfolds in February and marks the time when applicants should secure legal representation and establish a partnership with a trusted immigration law firm.
Securing Legal Representation (As Soon As Possible, But No Later Than The End Of February): The pre-registration phase is a proactive step that sets the stage for a smooth and efficient journey through the H-1B process. In the month of February, prospective applicants are encouraged to engage in legal services, ensuring that they have expert guidance throughout the registration process. Early involvement allows ample time for legal professionals to understand individual cases, strategize effectively, and address any potential complexities that may arise during the subsequent stages. Clients and legal professionals collaborate closely during this period to lay the groundwork for the subsequent stages of registration, selection, and filing. By securing legal representation in a timely manner, applicants position themselves advantageously for the upcoming H-1B registration period.
Organizational Account Creation and Preparation (February 28, 2024): USCIS will introduce new organizational accounts within the USCIS online system which will go live on February 28, 2024. These accounts are designed to facilitate collaboration among multiple individuals within an organization and their legal representatives in the process of preparing H-1B registrations, H-1B petitions, and any associated Form I-907. This will help streamline and coordinate efforts among different stakeholders involved in the H-1B application process, ensuring that those involved can work together more efficiently on the necessary documentation. This collaborative approach aims to enhance the accuracy, completeness, and overall effectiveness of the H-1B filing process, potentially reducing errors and expediting the application procedures.
Prospective H-1B cap-subject petitioners are required to use a USCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process. All petitioners will need to have the new organizational account to register for the H-1B lottery. However, depending on whether a previous H-1B registrant account was created, a petitioner may not need to create a new account.
- If an H-1B registrant account was previously created and the account can be accessed
If an H-1B registrant account was previously created, a new organizational account does not need to be created. Rather, the old H-1B registrant account will be automatically upgraded to the new organizational account. The upgrade is expected to occur on February 28, 2024.
- If an H-1B registrant account was never created OR the previously created H-1B registrant account cannot be accessed
If an H-1B registrant account was never created or the previously created an H-1B registrant account cannot be accessed, a new organizational account will need to be created to register for the H-1B selection lottery. A new organizational account cannot be created until February 28, 2024.
2. Registration Period
The initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap season will commence at 12 PM noon (EST) [9 AM PST] on March 6, 2024, and will continue through 12 PM noon (EST) [9 AM PST] on March 22, 2024. This marks the window in which employers can officially register beneficiaries for the H-1B lottery. Here, we delve into the nuances of this crucial phase, outlining key actions and considerations for employers and prospective applicants. Below is a visual representation of the dates provided by USCIS:
|Day of the Week
|March 6, 2024
|March 22, 2024
Registration Opens (March 6, 2024; 12 PM EST / 9 AM PST): The opening of the registration period signals the initiation of the H-1B lottery process. During this time, employers create accounts on the designated USCIS platform, input beneficiary data, and follow the specific steps and requirements outlined in the H-1B registration system.
Registration Closes (March 22, 2024; 12 PM EST / 9 AM PST): With 16 days allocated for the registration window, employers must act swiftly to complete the necessary steps. The deadline underscores the limited timeframe available for registering beneficiaries, emphasizing the importance of timely and accurate submissions. Missing this deadline means exclusion from the lottery, making adherence to this critical date paramount for success.
This registration period demands diligence and precision. Employers, in collaboration with legal representatives, should ensure that beneficiary information is accurately documented within the specified timeframe. This ultimately sets the stage for the subsequent lottery selection and announcement dates.
3. Selection and Announcement
H-1B lottery selection and announcement typically unfold towards the end of March. This stage holds paramount importance as USCIS conducts the lottery to determine which beneficiaries can proceed to the next steps in the H-1B process.
Lottery Date (End of March): The lottery date marks the moment when USCIS randomly selects beneficiaries from the pool of registrations. This randomized selection ultimately determines who will have the opportunity to file an H-1B petition. The anticipation surrounding this date is palpable for both employers and prospective visa holders, as it sets the course for the remainder of the process.
Announcement Date (End of March): Shortly after the lottery is conducted, USCIS announces the results and sends out selection notices to employers. This announcement date represents a moment of clarity, bringing relief to those selected and prompting employers to move forward with the next steps in the process. Prompt announcement ensures that stakeholders are informed of the outcomes within a reasonable timeframe.
The selection and announcement phase of the H-1B visa process is significant for all employers and beneficiaries involved. For those selected, it marks a crucial step towards securing an H-1B visa, while for those not chosen, it necessitates a reevaluation of immigration strategies.
4. Filing Window
The filing window of the H-1B visa process demands prompt and meticulous action. Between April 1, 2024, to June 30, 2024, selected registrants must formally file their H-1B petitions with USCIS. These dates are based on previous years’ filing window to submit H-1B petitions with USCIS.
Filing Window Opens (April 1, 2024): April 1 marks the opening of the filing window, signaling selected registrants to initiate the submission of their H-1B petitions. This date is of utmost importance, and employers, along with their legal representatives, are urged to promptly undertake the necessary steps to ensure a timely and successful filing. This facilitates the formal application process, requiring meticulous attention to detail and strict adherence to USCIS guidelines.
Filing Window Closes (June 30, 2024): June 30 is the ultimate deadline for USCIS to receive H-1B petitions for the FY 2025. This deadline necessitates that USCIS receive the petition by June 30. This distinction signifies the importance of timely filings to avoid any delays or complications in the processing of the H-1B petition.
The filing window encapsulates the culmination of the H-1B application process, where selected registrants formalize their pursuit of H-1B visas.
In navigating this intricate timeline, success hinges on awareness, preparation, and adherence to each critical milestone. We encourage stakeholders to stay informed and engaged, recognizing that each phase plays a vital role in the H-1B immigration process. As stakeholders embark on this journey, staying informed and engaged remains the key to unlocking opportunities and navigating the complexities of the immigration landscape.
Should you have any questions regarding the H-1B visa lottery, you may contact our team at Meng Law Group for personalized guidance and assistance on our website.
 USCIS Announces Strengthened Integrity Measures for H-1B Program, January 30, 2024, http://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/news-releases/uscis-announces-strengthened-integrity-measures-for-h-1b-program
For personalized guidance and assistance regarding the H-1B visa lottery or any inquiries, please feel free to reach out to our team at Meng Law Group. You may also contact us via phone at 626-339-9363 or email us directly at email@example.com