FY2024 H-1B Lottery Update
With 85,000 new H-1B visas becoming available for Fiscal Year 2024, U.S. employers seeking to sponsor foreign national workers in “specialty occupation” positions across all industries will be able to begin registering for the annual H-1B lottery on March 1.
Because the H-1B category is not restricted by country of citizenship or field of work – and because the H-1B is the only dual-intent nonimmigrant visa category that allows indefinite extensions for foreign nationals subject to immigrant visa backlogs – the demand for H-1B visas significantly exceeds supply each year. As a result, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) allocates new H-1B visas using a computer-based lottery system, selecting H-1B Cap Registrations submitted through USCIS’ online portal, myUSCIS. New cap-subject H-1B visas are allocated as follows:
Regular Cap: Regular Cap H-1Bs are available to foreign nationals from any country of citizenship who qualify for the H-1B classification by having a minimum of a U.S. or foreign Bachelor’s degree or a combination of education and experience that is equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor’s degree.
Master’s Cap: Master’s Cap H-1Bs are available to foreign nationals from any country of citizenship who have earned a Master’s (or higher) degree in the U.S. Foreign nationals eligible for the Master’s Cap are also eligible for the Regular Cap and may be selected in either lottery, increasing their odds of selection overall.
USCIS runs the lottery process for the Master’s Cap and Regular Cap in two steps. First, USCIS selects enough H-1B registrations to satisfy the Regular Cap from a pool that includes both Regular and Master’s Cap H-1B registrations. Then, USCIS selects enough H-1B registrations to satisfy the Master’s Cap from the remaining Master’s Cap H-1B registrations. In past years, USCIS has run subsequent lotteries as needed to satisfy both caps. In FY 2023, USCIS only ran one lottery.
In 2023, the USCIS will accept Fiscal Year 2024 H-1B Cap Registrations between March 1st and noon on March 17th. At the end of March, USCIS will conduct the H-1B lottery and selected registrations will be identified in employer and attorney myUSCIS accounts. Once notified of selection, the sponsoring employer will have 90 days, from April 1st to June 30th, to prepare and submit an H-1B visa petition to USCIS. If the H-1B petition is approved, it will become effective on October 1, 2022.
- F-1 foreign students who have graduated and are employed pursuant to OPT employment authorization or who will complete a degree program during the H-1B filing window
- J-1 foreign scholars or researchers
- Foreign nationals in other nonimmigrant statuses that present intent or timing challenges for green card sponsorship (TN, H-1B1, L-1 from countries subject to immigrant visa backlogs, and others
- Foreign nationals in derivative H-4 or L-2 status with employment authorization which is tied to the continuing status of their H-1B/L-1 spouse
- Foreign nationals who are currently living outside of the U.S.
An employer may submit only one registration for each foreign national worker – if an employer submits more than one registration for the same worker, the USCIS will reject all registrations for that worker as duplicates.
Now is the time to review your existing foreign national employees to see if any would be a good candidate for the H-1B visa and if your company and the employee would benefit from their having this status. Take a look at this year’s overview of the H-1B lottery and contact your Parker Gallini immigration attorney to discuss any questions you have about the H-1B program.
USCIS Processing Dependents’ H-4/L-2 and EAD Applications Concurrently with Form I-129
Reaching a settlement with the plaintiffs in the Edakunni v. Mayorkas lawsuit, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is implementing structural changes to USCIS procedures to allow for concurrent processing of Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization for dependents in H-4 and L-2 status when these applications are filed together with Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Effective immediately, the USCIS will process and approve H-4 and L-2 extension and change of status applications and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) applications filed together with the principal’s H-1B or L-1 visa petition. Concurrent processing applies whether the principal’s Form I-129 is filed with standard or premium processing. This procedural change will benefit dependent spouses by reducing the lengthy processing times for Form I-539 and Form I-765 Applications, decreasing the chances that they will lose documentation of status or work authorization due to long processing delays
Flexibility Extended for Deadlines for Responses to Requests for Evidence and Other Agency Requests
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has extended flexibility to respond to Agency requests received through March 23, 2023. Initially adopted in March of 2019 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this rule extends by 60 calendar days the due date for responses to various Agency requests. The rule applies to the following types of USCIS requests: Requests for Evidence; Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14); Notices of Intent to Deny; Notices of Intent to Revoke; Notices of Intent to Rescind; Notices of Intent to Terminate Regional Centers; Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status; and Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.
In addition, USCIS will consider a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, or Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA) to be timely filed if received within 90 calendar days after the issuance of a decision or denial of a case dated between November 1, 2021, and March 23, 2023.
USCIS has indicated that this will be the final extension of COVID-19 related flexibilities and that requests and notices dated after March 23, 2023 will be subject to the time limitations enumerated in the request or notice.
For more information about this extension of COVID-19 related flexibility in responding to Agency requests, contact your Parker Gallini immigration attorney or see this USCIS notice.
New DHS Parole Program for Nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela (the “CHNV Parole Program”)
President Biden announced a new program on January 5, 2023 that expands eligibility for temporary admission to the U.S. to nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela and their immediate family members. The program, also known as the “CHNV Parole Program” requires beneficiaries to have a U.S.-based sponsor, apply and be approved in advance of arriving in the U.S., and travel to the U.S. by flight rather than via a land border. Applicants must also “undergo and clear robust security vetting” and “warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.” Qualified beneficiaries of the program will be issued advanced travel authorization and may be admitted to the U.S. for a temporary period of up to two years. Travel authorization is limited to 30,000 individuals each month across all countries included in the program.
To initiate the application process, interested individuals must have their U.S.-based supporter fill out and submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) a Form I-134A, Online Request to be a Supporter and Declaration of Financial Support, for each beneficiary they are committing to support, including minor children. In addition to completing the form, would-be sponsors must demonstrate sufficient proof of income to support beneficiaries for the two-year period that they would be paroled into the U.S. Qualified sponsors must reside in the U.S. and can include U.S. citizens and permanent residents, asylees and refuges, and individuals with temporary statuses, including TPS or deferred action. Would-be sponsors do not have to be related to the beneficiaries they seek to sponsor.
USCIS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) will review the supporter information provided in the Form I-134A to ensure that sponsors are able to financially support the beneficiaries they are agreeing to support. There is no fee to submit this form or to apply for the parole program. If USCIS successfully processes the Form I-134A, USCIS will reach out the beneficiary with instructions on next steps for applying and passing security and public health standards. If the beneficiary is approved, they will be issued a travel document valid for 90 days. Approved beneficiaries must then secure air travel to a U.S. city within that time frame. Upon arrival in the U.S., beneficiaries of the new program are eligible to apply for work authorization by submitting Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
You can find additional information on the processes and country specific eligibility requirements at https://www.uscis.gov/CHNV and https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/frequently-asked-questions-about-the-processes-for-cubans-haitians-nicaraguans-and-venezuelans.
If you have specific questions about the new parole program or being a U.S.-based supporter for someone, reach out to your Parker Gallini immigration attorney for more information.