By Jessabelle M. Koppleman, Esq. & Julie T. Oliver-Zhang, Esq.
Common questions about the H1b visa process are: “When should I apply?” and “How long does the H-1B visa process take?” Each fiscal year, USCIS sets aside 85,000 new H1b visa availability in October. Although these visas are not effective until the fall, the application process begins much earlier. If you plan on filing an H1b petition in 2022 (FY 2023), you should be aware of the following timeline:
FY 2023 H-1B Electronic Registration Process: Petitioners must first register online using the USCIS Electronic Registration Process. In this first step, employers seeking to employ prospective H-1B worker(s) subject to the cap must complete a registration application that requires only basic information about the prospective petitioner and worker(s). You can begin creating an H-1B registrant account on February 21, 2022 at noon Eastern Time. The registration period officially opens in March for a minimum of 14 calendar days. This year, the registration period opens on March 1, 2022 and closes on March 18, 2022 at noon Eastern Time.
Lottery Selection: USCIS will then conduct a random selection among the properly submitted electronic registrations. Generally, USCIS will notify selected registrants by March 31st. If selected, this means that you were randomly chosen in the “lottery” draw and are invited to submit your H1b petition. USCIS generally conducts two lottery draws and may include additional draws as needed. For Fiscal Year 2022, USCIS received 308,613 registrations and initially selected 87,500 registrants. However, only 59,783 H1b applications were approved by USCIS, or 68%. The 32% of H-1B applications that were rejected as deficient freed up H1b visa availability for a second round. In July of 2021, USCIS conducted a second draw and selected 27,717 registrants.
For further explanation of the H-1B visa lottery see: https://oliverzhanglaw.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-h-1b-visas-in-2022/
Petition: Once selected in the lottery, you may file your H1b visa petition in April. The initial filing window for a cap-subject H-1B is normally April 1st to June 30th (a 90 day filing period). USCIS may set additional filing periods when they decide to conduct additional selections.
Approval Time of the H-1B Petition: Typically, USCIS will process a petition within 4-6 months. Alternatively, Premium Processing is available for H-1B petitions at an additional charge of $2,500. Premium Processing provides expedited processing of the petition within 15 calendar days. Please note, Premium Processing does not guarantee approval of a petition.
Effective Date: Finally, if USCIS approves the H1b visa petition and change of status request, the beneficiary-worker may start employment, at the earliest, on October 1st.
Preparing your H1b visa petition can be complex, that’s why Oliver-Zhang Law is here for you every step of the way. We have years of experience and proven track record of successfully filing H1b visa applications and we are committed to giving you the best chance of success.
Contact one of our dedicated H1b lawyers today at [email protected], or 202-643-1110 to inquire about our H1b visa services. Oliver-Zhang Law provides free immigration consultations. We service employers and individuals in the Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, and Washington state areas, as well as nationwide.