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Every year towards the end of March, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) holds a visa lottery for companies that wish to hire a foreign worker on an H-1B visa. This visa allows US companies to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis, and the selection lottery to obtain one is known as the “H-1B lottery.”
In 2020, the H-1B lottery undergoes a slight but important change. While the numbers of available slots remain the same as in previous years, the process for applying for an H-1B visa now requires much less upfront paperwork and cost. Instead of applying to the lottery with a fee and lengthy application, H-1B lottery applicants in 2020 will first need to register through an online registration system and pay a $10.00 fee (plus any applicable attorney costs). After the employer is notified that they have been selected in the lottery, they will need to work with their attorney to submit the entire H-1B petition along with applicable filing fees.
Prior to this year, hundreds of thousands of employers would incur upfront attorney fees and would have to budget thousands of dollars for USCIS filing fees prior to the USCIS issuing a decision on those H-1B petitions that would be selected in the lottery for review.
For applications selected in the lottery, USCIS would cash the filing fees (ranging from $1,710 to $3,900) and then proceed to review the H-1B petition. If the application was not chosen, USCIS would return the filing fees. In either event, H-1B sponsors (the employer) used to be out thousands of dollars for a period of months.
For this year’s H-1B lottery, USCIS is hoping the new system will streamline the process on their end and reduce up-front costs and paperwork for potential employers. USCIS’ $10 registration fee, which—combined with the nominal cost of retaining a lawyer or law firm—adds up to a much more reasonable cost to apply for an H-1B visa.
Read on for more details about how to apply for an H-1B visa.
General requirements for an H-1B potential employee (beneficiary):
General requirements for an H-1B specialty occupation (the job being offered to the applicant by the company):
Once you’ve decided that a job is available within your organization, the potential employee qualifies, and you’re ready to file for the H-1B visa lottery, you will need to understand the process.
The H-1B cap is split into two categories: master’s cap and regular (bachelor’s) cap. The master’s cap is reserved for those applicants who hold a US (or equivalent) master’s degree and the regular cap is reserved for those applicants who hold a US (or equivalent) bachelor’s degree.
There is a numerical limit for both categories. This is how it works:
One registration per potential employee per company is permitted, with no duplicate entries. If a company has multiple EINs and there are two different jobs, representing a legitimate business need, this is permissible.
There is a waitlist for all registrations, but judging from historical numbers, this won’t be available or used.
If your company uses an attorney, you will need to have Form G-28 (attorney representation form) on file. Note that at this point in the process, you will not yet need position information such as job title, job description, salary info, etc.
If your application was selected in the lottery... what’s next?
Well, here’s the problem: USCIS has never done this before. There may be delays, but here are estimates for projected timelines:
Yes, assuming you meet the other degree requirements. USCIS noted that the “[F]inal rule does not alter the general requirement for establishing eligibility at the time the petition is filed.…
Eligibility for H-1B classification does not need to be demonstrated at the time a registration is submitted.”
As a general rule, the company pays the applicant’s attorney and registration fees. By law, some fees cannot be paid for the employee. Our office generally recommends the employer pay all fees associated with the H-1B application.
Self-employment for H-1B applicants is not permitted; in fact, the applicant/employer has to establish several requirements. This will need to be discussed in length with an attorney to establish eligibility.
Yes, there are many different options. Contact our office to discuss the options.
If you are interested in learning about the H-1B process we recommend contacting Sid Chary Esq. for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.charylaw.com