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19 de abril de 2022

US Citizenship and Immigration Services filing period now open for selected H-1B Visa registrants

Every year, hundreds of thousands skilled workers petition for the highly coveted H-1B visa. Due to increasing demand, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) places an annual cap on the number of these visas issued each year, and that cap is quickly met.

Generally, the number of people who can be granted new H-1Bs each fiscal year is limited to 65,000. Of that number, 6,800 visas are reserved for citizens of Singapore and Chile, who may be granted H-1B1 status under free-trade agreements with those countries.

There is an additional pool of 20,000 new H-1B visas available to foreign nationals who have earned a US master's or higher degree (often referred to as the master's cap or the advanced degree exemption).

In order to properly manage the number of registrations received annually, USCIS has instituted an electronic lottery that randomly selects from the available pool of applicants that registered via the USCIS’s electronic portal between March 1 and March 18, 2022.

For FY 2022, USCIS received a total of 308,613 H-1B registrations. Of those, USCIS selected 131,970 – that is, 43 percent of all registrations.

Selected registrants may now file a corresponding H-1B petition between April 1 and June 30, 2022. This petition must include the necessary filing fees and any supporting documentation to reinforce the applicant’s eligibility for the H-1B. Additionally, eligible employers must receive a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the US Department of Labor (DOL) before they may file an H-1B petition. 

The LCA may be filed up to six months before the employment relationship will begin and may be certified for a validity period of up to three years. An LCA may be certified for multiple openings of the same occupation and for multiple work locations. A copy of the certified LCA must be provided to the H-1B worker. DOL processing times for LCAs is now up to seven business days (20 C.F.R. § 655.740(a)(1)).  It is advisable, however, to request the LCA as soon as feasible as wait times may vary and take longer than estimated.   

Once USCIS has received a certified LCA and a formal application is presented, it then examines the case and determines whether the applicant qualifies for an H-1B visa. Applicants should ensure that their visa application is filed correctly and complete. If your H-1B petition fails at this stage, USCIS will request additional information and/or issue a denial – either of which requires extensive work to fix the petition. For this reason, applicants generally hire legal counsel to assist in the H-1B process.

If you have any questions about submitting H1-B petitions for employees selected in the registration process, please contact the authors or your DLA Piper relationship attorney.