U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will commence the H-1B cap lottery for FY2023 this March. The H-1B cap lottery is used to fulfill the quota of 85,000 new H-1B visas available each fiscal year. This year, USCIS will continue to use the electronic registration and selection notification process for the H-1B cap lottery.
Implemented in 2020, USCIS requires petitioners to pre-register eligible beneficiaries through their online electronic registration process. The registration process timeline is as follows:
- Early March: Petitioners can begin creating H-1B registrant accounts.
- Mid-March: H-1B registration period opens for a minimum of 14 calendar days.
- March 31: Date by which USCIS intends to notify selected registrants.
- April 1: The earliest date that FY2023 H-1B cap-subject petitions may be filed.
At this time, USCIS has not provided the exact dates for FY2023; these are an estimation based on previous timelines.
The Cap Lottery
If, as anticipated, USCIS receives more than enough cap registrations to use up the entire 85,000 available visas, it will run a lottery to select those beneficiaries who will be eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition.
The selection process is broken into two lotteries.
- The first lottery will be completed to meet the advanced-degree (Master’s cap) exemption of 20,000 visas.
- USCIS will then place the remaining registrations – including advanced-degree registrations not selected in the first lottery – into a second lottery to select enough registrations to fill the regular H-1B quota of 65,000 visas.
Beneficiaries that are not selected will have their registration remain as “submitted.” Whether those beneficiaries might ultimately be included or selected in a possible second or third round of the lottery is yet to be confirmed by USCIS. However, based on the previous two years is a possibility.
H-1B Cap Petition
The filing window for H-1B cap-subject petitions is April 1 – June 30.
H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, may not be filed unless based on a valid and selected registration. Therefore, only those beneficiaries who are successfully selected in the lottery are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition starting on April 1. Selected beneficiaries will have a 90-day filing window to submit the H-1B cap-subject petition to USCIS. USCIS will not accept the H-1B cap-subject petition if received after June 30.
An approved H-1B cap-subject petition will not take effect until October 1.
H-1B cap-subject petitions filed under regular processing will be subject to USCIS’s current processing times, which remain extended. Regular processing times can fluctuate, but on average will be processed within 4-6 months (if not sooner).
At present, USCIS is accepting premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions, which guarantees a response from USCIS within 15 days. Ultimately, regardless of whether the H-1B cap-subject petition is approved early, the H-1B status will not take effect until October 1.