Feb 13, 2023

Think Early: How to Prepare for This Year’s New H-1B Filing Season

Alert | Immigration Law Alert

With a shortage of workers in many sectors of the U.S. professional labor market, employers continue to seek qualified candidates among the non-U.S.-citizen population, including recent graduates of U.S. colleges.

Unfortunately, due to statutory limitations, only 85,000 new H-1B visas can be issued each year; thus, employers must participate, and be selected, in the H-1B lottery process before they can begin the hiring process for any H-1B first-timers. (Those who previously held an H-1B status are not subject to the annual H-1B cap.)

Employers who want to hire new graduates, students in Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) status, or anyone who is seeking to obtain an H-1B status for the first time should plan early to account for the conditions and deadlines imposed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). The most important dates are the registration dates for the annual H-1B lottery:

  • March 1, 2023 @ 12:00 noon (ET)—registration for the H-1B lottery starts
  • March 17, 2023 @ at 12:00 noon (ET)—registration period for the H-1B closes

Shortly after the registration window closes, USCIS will notify selected employers that they can submit an H-1B petition for the qualified worker. After selection, an employer will have to submit an H-1B petition on behalf of the worker, and, if such petition is approved, the new employee can begin working on October 1, 2023.

There are other relevant dates, and USCIS sometimes conducts a supplemental lottery after the initially selected employers fail to file or file unqualified H-1B petitions. However, if the initial registration deadline of March 1 – March 17 is missed, the employer will not have an opportunity to apply for a new cap-subject H-1B visa until 2024.

Accordingly, we recommend that all employers think of their hiring needs early. Even though the registration window will not open for a few more weeks, early planning will help avoid stress and missed opportunities. In addition, USCIS allows employers to create their registration accounts early to be prepared for the March 1 registration deadline.

Contact Roetzel attorneys Lidia B. Ebersole and Stephanie Olivera Mittica to discuss any potential hiring needs, evaluate positions and candidates, and determine whether to register for this year’s H-1B visa lottery.

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