By Mary P. Snyder
As March approaches, it's time to take action if your organization is seeking new H-1B status for any foreign national employees or applicants. H-1B status allows foreign nationals who work in a specialty occupation (an occupation for which a degree is required) to live and work in the U.S. for up to six years. In addition, individuals are free to seek permanent residency while in H-1B status—something that is not generally allowed for individuals in other temporary statuses, such as OPT or TN.
For foreign nationals not already in H-1B status, they must be selected for one of a limited number of new H-1B spots issued to foreign nationals each fiscal year (unless you are a cap-exempt employer). Because more individuals typically seek H-1B status than there are new spots available, a lottery is held to determine which foreign nationals will get those spots. This year, the lottery will be based off of registrations completed between 11:00 a.m. CT on March 1 and 11:00 a.m. CT on March 18, 2022. Individuals must be registered before the cut-off time on March 18 to be considered for this year’s H-1B lottery.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will then run the lottery no later than March 31 and notify employers if the individuals they registered were selected. Employers and their attorneys will then have 90 days from being notified that an individual has been selected to complete all H-1B filing tasks [i.e., file the Labor Condition Application (LCA), complete the I-129 and supplements, assemble the evidence and submit the petition]. Filing fees associated with H-1Bs will not be due until the filing of the H-1B petition.
This is the third year in which employers and their attorneys have been able to register potential new H-1B applicants using a streamlined form on a government portal and pay a $10 registration fee, rather than having to complete a full petition before the lottery is run. The registration process has saved employers significant time and expense associated with entering foreign nationals in the H-1B lottery and thus, has eliminated a primary barrier that previously existed for some companies trying to attain H-1B status for their foreign national employees.
If you need to register a foreign national in the H-1B lottery, or if you have questions regarding business immigration legal matters, please contact Mary P. Snyder or another member of the Labor & Employment Practice Group.