The H-1B visa program remains one of the most sought-after avenues for skilled foreign workers aspiring to contribute their expertise to the United States. With the annual cap on H-1B visas being 85,000, the competition during the cap season can be intense.
In 2020, USCIS started an online registration process for H-1B cap cases, where the employer pays a small fee ($10 per registration) and provides general information to enter an individual in the lottery. USCIS will run a random lottery at the end of the registrations period. Those selected have the ability to obtain the H-1B visa.
It seems as though each year there is a record number of submissions. However, the number of registrations submitted this year was well beyond what many estimated. There was a total of 780,884 requisitions this year compared to the 483,927 from last year.
Due to the large jump in registrations, USCIS began investigating the petitioning companies. This investigation discovered fraud among many of the petitioning companies. It was discovered that companies were colluding with each other and submitting multiple registrations for their employees to give them a better chance of getting selected in the lottery.
A Beneficiary can have different companies submit a registration for them. The issue is when the petitioning companies are related or work together specifically to give the individual a better chance of getting selected. For more information on this, please see our article, “USCIS Uncovers Fraud in H-1B Registration Process: Steps Taken to Ensure Fairness and Transparency.”
It was advised that those registrations associated with this fraud not file the H-1B petition if selected due to the potential repercussions from USCIS. Because of this recommendation, it seems as though many cases were either not filed or were denied/rejected.
As a result, USCIS conducted a second lottery, which would allow the unselected individuals a chance of obtaining a well sought after H-1B visa. In the second lottery USCIS selected another 77,609 registrations. Considering the large number, it is blatantly clear that the majority of those initially selected took part in the discovered fraud. Furthermore, USCIS confirmed that out of the 780,884 total registrations 408,891 of them were for beneficiaries with multiple registrations.
Those that were selected have until October 31, 2023 to submit the H-1B petitions to USCIS. Depending on how many petitions USCIS receives, we should not rule out the possibility of a third lottery.
We again urge those that have multiple registrations submitted for related companies or for companies that colluded together to not submit a petition with USCIS if selected in the second lottery. The repercussions for continuing the process remain unseen, but there is the potential that USCIS could implement charges to those violators.
Moving forward, the H-1B cap season will likely continue to be a dynamic process, requiring careful preparation and expert guidance for employers and applicants. The challenges faced during this year’s cap season shed light on the importance of compliance, transparency, and strategic planning to navigate this competitive process successfully.
If you have any questions regarding the H-1B process or had a case selected in the second lottery, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.