In a landmark move, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has held an unprecedented third H1B visa lottery in order to meet the limit for the 2021 – 22 financial year. In accordance with current protocols, successful applicants for a US work visa will be selected randomly as part of the historic third lottery.
It’s the first time ever that USCIS has had to hold a third lottery in order to meet the required number of candidates. Back in July, the second round of applications was opened as not enough were received during the first round. Those selected from the next lottery will be able to start working in the US from October 2022.
The H1B visa cap is set at 65,000 per year, with a further 20,000 set aside for applicants who hold a Master’s Degree from a recognised US University.
Random selection process
A USCIS statement said: “On November 19, we selected from among previously submitted electronic registrations using a random selection process. The petition filing period based on registrations selected on November 19 will begin on Nov. 22, 2021, and close on Feb. 23, 2022.
“Individuals with selected registrations will have their myUSCIS accounts updated to include a selection notice, which includes details about when and where to file,” the statement added.
The USCIS statement went on to say: “We recently determined that we needed to select additional registrations to reach the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H1B numerical allocations, including the advanced degree exemption.”
Initial H1B visa lottery
The first round of applications from the H1B visa lottery took place back in March. The initial filing period for those with selected registrations for FY 2022 was from April 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021.
At the time of the first lottery, USCIS said: “Per regulation, we take into account historical data related to approvals, denials, revocations, and other relevant factors to calculate the number of registrations needed to meet the H1B numerical allocations for a given fiscal year.”
“Only those petitioners with selected registrations for FY 2022 are eligible to file H1B cap-subject petitions,” USCIS said.
H1B filing fees
News of an historic third H1B visa lottery process comes hot on the heels of an announcement that H1B visa filing fees could more than double under the Biden administration. If Biden’s Budget Reconciliation Bill is passed in its current form, then H1B petitioners can expect to pay an extra $500. An H1B petition currently costs $460.
According to a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis of government fees, should charges for an H1B petition increase, companies could end up spending up to $31,800 on costs for filing an initial H1B visa petition for three years and extending it by a further three years.
Small business owners would be hit hardest by fee increases, with one owner of a small firm saying: “It can cost as much as $30,000 in immigration attorney fees, filing fees and responding to requests for evidence each time you file an H1B or an extension.”
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