Sponsoring Foreign Workers Under an H-1B
The H-1B visa program was designed to help US employers fill openings in specialty occupations when they can’t find suitable applicants within the country. With permission, these employers can extend job offers to qualified workers outside of the US.
However, to get approved to hire a foreign worker, employers must meet multiple criteria, starting with the job’s requirements. Specialty occupations are defined as those that use a bachelor’s degree or higher with specific skills and knowledge to perform the duties.
The employer must submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the Department of Labor (DoL) first, explaining the job opening and details and proving that there were ample attempts to hire a US national before submitting the LCA. Common examples of a specialty occupation the DoL will approve include jobs in the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), healthcare, accounting, law, higher education, and architecture.
If the LCA is approved, the employer can then reach out and extend a job offer to the foreign worker. This person must be able to prove that they possess the education, skills, and other requirements necessary to do the job. However, meeting the criteria isn’t enough. Most H-1B applicants fall into the “cap” category, so they have to enter the lottery process and hope to get chosen, too.
The Statutory Cap for H-1B Visas
Visa petitions that don’t meet the category of “cap-exempt” are entered into a random lottery. The lottery is necessary because USCIS imposes a strict statutory cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per year for regular petitions. They allow an additional 20,000 applications for foreign workers with advanced degrees (master’s and beyond, from an accredited US academic institution).
The cap is in place regardless of how many petitions are received during a fiscal year. In the past, the requests for visas significantly exceeded the number available. In the past three years alone, the demand has risen, and USCIS expects even more registrations in FY 2024, considering these numbers:
● FY 2021, 274,237 H-1B registrations were received
● FY 2022, 308,613 H-1B registrations were received
● FY 2023, 483,927 H-1B registrations were received
Because of the high number of registrations compared to the statutory cap, USCIS changed the way it handled registrations. Rather than submitting the whole application, petitioners go online to register their foreign workers into the lottery, paying a small registration fee instead of the whole application fee. If the petition gets chosen in the lottery, the employer continues to complete the paperwork for the beneficiary’s visa request.
Employers should be prepared to file the petition as early as October 1, 2023 (the first day of Fiscal Year 2024). The petition process can take months to complete, and the sooner the paperwork is filed, the more likely it will be that approval will occur for the following work year.
While no one knows for sure what the H-1B electronic registration process will be until USCIS announces it, immigration law experts have the experience to help you prepare. USCIS’s announcement for FY 2024 should be coming soon, and Visa2US is ready to get your paperwork on track for the next H-1B cap filing season.
Employers planning on hiring foreign workers should have candidates in mind, evaluated, and ready for a job offer. Our experts at Visa2US are here to guide you through the process and assist you with ensuring your job descriptions are ready for the Department of Labor, and your salaries are acceptable with the DoL’s threshold. Preparing all of these details now will ensure you’re ready to complete the electronic registration soon after the date is announced.
Contact our helpful professionals at Visa2US now to have your H-1B visa ready for Fiscal Year 2024.