The USCIS – the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services – announced that it had conducted a random lottery selection to reach the 2022 H-1B allocations.
What is an H-1B?
An H-1B is a temporary visa category. That provides employers with the right to petition for skilled and educated foreign professionals. To work in specific occupations that require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent. These are usually in fields, such as mathematics, medical sciences, or technology. The typical initial duration for an H-1B visa is about three years. But this can be extended based on the employer’s needs.
The employer, who is petitioning, must first attest to the fact that employing the H-1B worker in question will not have any adverse effect on the wages or working conditions US nationals who are similarly employed, and they must inform their existing workers that they intend to hire an H-1B worker.
The visa category started in 1990. And Congress has since limited the number of H-1Bs available for each year. The current cap is at 65,000 visas. But there is an additional 20,000 visas allowed for foreign professionals. If they hold a postgraduate degree from a US higher education institution.
In the past few years, they reached the cap well before the end of the year. In fact, the fiscal year 2021 reached its cap in February.
Why is a Random Selection Being Held?
Before 2020, employers had to submit H-1B petitions without knowing whether a visa would be available or not. This is because visa demand greatly exceeds supply.
As of March 2020 (that is, for FY 2021), USCIS restructured the registration process. Such that it occurs before filing a full petition. This was to reduce the burden placed on employers in the US.
As such, USCIS will now announce a registration period. During which an employer can register each foreign national they want to file an H-1B petition. Also known as the ‘beneficiaries.’
The H-1B Cap
If they hit the cap during the first five working days. Then they will conduct a lottery to determine which registrations’ petitions to process. Since there are a limited number of visas available, and a very large number of registrations to go through. A lottery process will make this easier for employers as well as the USCIS. Employers will no longer have to go through the tedious process of filing a petition that may not be processed. And the USCIS agents will not have to go through each registration.
Under this new system, employers have to make a payment of a $10 fee for each registration. The registration will include some minimal information about the US employer. As well as, the foreign national beneficiary. This is in contrast to the details required by the USCIS when filing a full H-1B petition. There is no limit to how many registrations an employer may file. But the employer has to attest to the fact that they are going to file an H-1B petition. And there cannot be more than one registration per beneficiary.
They hold random selections only in the event that there are more registrations than available visas. The USCIS will randomly select registrations up until the cap limit, and then the master’s exemption limit. They send all notifications electronically to the employer. And give them up to 90 days to file the petition.
If there are registrations where petitions are not filled, or if the petition is not accepted. Then the USCIS may make additional selections to repeat the process and meet the available visa numbers.
FY 2022 Random Selections
Due to reaching the cap for both the regular H-1B and the master’s cap exemption so early in the year. The USCIS conducted a random selection to pick individuals to give visas to.
The first random selection took place in March. And the selections from all the registrations that were properly submitted. Thus, they notified the selected petitioners of their eligibility. Allowing them to file an H-1B cap-subject petition for the beneficiaries selected in the registration.
They conducted the second random selection in July. Following the same process. Individuals with selected registrations had their USCIS accounts updated with a selection notice. The notice provides details on when and where to file the petition.
Following this, they conducted the third random selection in November. And included advanced degree exemptions.
Selecting petitions from the pool of the registrations previously submitted. And the filing period for petitions began in November, to end in February 2022.
Registrants’ can see the status for each registration made on their online accounts. Listed as a separate registration for each beneficiary they have registered.
The statutes include the following:
This is the status for registrations submitted to the USCIS. Making them eligible for selection. Even upon completion of the initial selection process, this registration continues to be eligible. Unless invalidate for any reason. This can be during the current selection. Or any future selections carried out for the fiscal year it was submitted for.
Registrations selected for an H-1B cap petition filing receive a selected mark.
If they find any duplicates they will deny registrations. This means that multiple registrations submitted for the same beneficiary by the same registrant get denied. In the event of a denied registration. They will consider all other registrations by the registrant or on their behalf for the beneficiary invalid for the current fiscal year.
Any registrations submitted where the payment was incomplete, declined or invalid receive an Invalidated-Failed Payment mark.
For now, the cap requires H-1B petitions filings at service centers within the given timeframe. These petitions need a paper filing and include a copy of the selection notice as well.