The H-1B Cap Season is on the horizon and employers will be eligible to register for the FY 2024 CAP in early March 2023. USCIS Fiscal Year 2024 starts from October 1st, 2023, and ends on September 30th, 2024. Each fiscal year there is an annual limit on the number of H-1B petitions that USCIS may approve, 65,000 in the standard cap filings for persons holding at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and 20,000 H-1Bs filings allotted to persons holding a master’s degree (or higher) awarded by an accredited college or university in the United States. To be eligible for the master’s cap, the foreign national must have completed a master’s degree (or higher) prior to the H-1B petition filing date. In 2020 USCIS initiated a new electronic registration process to cut down on wait times, paperwork and to make the process overall easier on the agency as well as employers.
It has been a few years now since the H-1B electronic registration process was implemented, which provides us with insight as to what we can expect and things to watch out for in FY 2024.
Changes We Saw in FY 2023
In FY 2023, registrations were submitted by more than 48,000 prospective petitioners, and about 31% of those registrants fell with the US master’s category. Overall USCIS received a total of 483,927 registrations but unlike prior years, for FY 2023 USCIS only needed to perform one selection process, where 127,600 were initially selected to reach the 85,000 numerical allocations (about 26% percent of registrations being selected from the lottery). In 2022, USCIS conducted selections in March, July, and November. Another notable change in 2023 is that USCIS did not suspend premium processing for cap cases as they have done in previous years.
Predictions for FY 2024
Based on 2023 and the current job market, it’s likely that we will only see one lottery draw again for the fiscal year 2024. Further, we expect the denial rate for H-1B to remain low as FY 2021 recorded the lowest denial rate on record, 7%, as compared to 24% in 2018 while under the Trump Administration.
It’s important that employers begin to review their nonimmigrant employees and determine who will be included in the registration process for the H-1B cap. Typically we see employees that are already working for the employer under OPT (student visas) and new hires from outside of the U.S. included in this registration. Given the low percentage of lottery selection, it is recommended that employers submit registrations on behalf of employees on OPT several times before a selection is made, especially those workers with a total of three years eligible OPT for STEM fields. Further, it is essential that nonimmigrant Indian employees are transitioned to an H-1B if the employee anticipates sponsoring such employees for a green card via the PERM process in the future.
Preparing for FY 2024
If you have not already done so, please reach out to our office by January 1, 2023, with a list of employees that you plan to register in the CAP. This will allow our office sufficient time to review their credentials, and the offered position and prepare the registrations. See also important dates announced by USCIS:
- Feb. 22: Petitioners and registrants can begin creating H-1B registrant accounts at noon Eastern.
- March 1: H-1B registration period opens at noon Eastern.
- March 18: H-1B registration period closes at noon Eastern.
- March 31: Date by which USCIS intends to notify selected registrants.
- April 1: The earliest date that FY 2023 H-1B cap-subject petitions may be filed.
Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions and/or to discuss the H-1B CAP process and potential alternatives at email@example.com or (404) 890-0372.