How Employers Can Prepare for the H-1B Visa Lottery

Preparing for the H-1B visa lottery as an employer can be overwhelming. Here’s what you need to know.

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how to prepare for h-1b visa lottery

Bringing and retaining a foreign worker to the United States hinges around completing visa paperwork on time. And in 2020, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced an electronic registration process for employers sponsoring an H-1B visa. Up to 65,000 skilled workers with bachelor’s degrees are granted H-1B visas every year, with an additional 20,000 set aside for those with advanced degrees.

For those who have sponsored H-1B visas in the past, you may already know what you need to provide the applicant. For example, the foreign worker you are sponsoring will require:

  • A job offer from a U.S.-based company in a specialty occupation
  • Proof of a degree in higher education or an equivalent
  • The company to show there is a lack of qualified workers in the U.S.

With the introduction of the electronic registration portal, submitting your application as an employer, selecting potential employees, and checking on the visa status should be more streamlined.

Up to 65,000 skilled workers with bachelor’s degrees are granted H-1B visas every year, with an additional 20,000 set aside for those with advanced degrees.

The electronic H-1B Visa lottery process

First things first, it’s important to create a USCIS account. Without this account, you will be unable to submit any documentation for the visa. However, you will not be able to create an application until the lottery opens. Employers are known as “registrants, ” which should be the type you choose when setting up an account.

To register, you will need:

  • The legal name of the company
  • Doing Business As name, if relevant
  • Your Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Your Company Address
  • The name, job title, and contact information of the authorized signatory
  • The foreign worker’s name, gender, date of birth, country of birth, country of citizenship, and passport number
  • The higher degree type of the foreign worker

Registration begins at noon Eastern Time (ET) on March 9, 2022, and it will end at noon on March 25th. The cost is $10 per beneficiary. This is a fairly short registration period, so it helps to have all the information ready by day one.

By March 31, USCIS will notify those chosen in the lottery of their approval. At that point, the petitioner must submit Form I-129.

How to prepare for H-1B visa registration

Companies are required to provide a considerable amount of information in order to sponsor an H-1B visa. Once you are sure that the petitioner meets the higher education requirements and will be working in a specialty occupation, a company must complete additional paperwork prior to registration:

First, the employer should determine the foreign worker’s salary and ensure it is consistent with the Department of Labor (DOL) requirements. The foreign worker will be earning a salary higher than the prevailing wage or the employer’s actual wage for an in-house employee.

Next, you will need to notify U.S. workers either through their collective bargaining representative, a hardcopy worksite notice, or an electronic notice, of their intent to sponsor H-1B workers. This notice should include:

  • How many non-immigrant workers the company intends to sponsor
  • The non-immigrant employees’ occupation classifications
  • The wages offered and duration of employment
  • Where the non-immigrant employees’ will be working
  • The phrase: “Complaints alleging misrepresentation of material facts in the labor condition application and/or failure to comply with the terms of the labor condition application may be filed with any office of the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor.”

After 30 days, the employer must submit the Labor Condition Application (LCA/Form 9035/9035E) through the DOL’s FLAG system at least 6 months before the initial date of employment. It should take about 7 days to get approval from the DOL.

After labor certification is approved

Once the labor certification is approved, you can begin working on the online registration. At this point, you will create your USCIS account, and when the electronic registration period begins, you will create a petition for each employee you intend to sponsor.

If your employee or employees are selected in the lottery, you will then need to submit a Form I-129 within 90 days of the completed H-1B application. This begins on April 1.

An employer’s H-1B Visa lottery checklist

Even with the electronic portal, you will need to keep track of the paperwork for each petitioning employee. To help you keep track, here is what you need to complete the H-1B Application from start to finish:

Before March

  • Job offer letter
  • Contract for each foreign worker
  • Job title and detailed job description in a specialty occupation
  • Salary and benefits
  • Applicant’s higher degree proof
  • Employer’s most recent financial report
  • Statement on whether or not the employee has ownership in the company
  • S. Worker’s Notice
  • Labor Condition Application

During the registration period

  • The legal name of the company
  • Doing Business As name, if relevant
  • Your Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Your Company Address
  • The name, job title, and contact information of the authorized signatory
  • The foreign worker’s name, gender, date of birth, country of birth, country of citizenship, and passport number
  • The higher degree type of the foreign worker
  • $10 per sponsored employee

After selection

  • All evidence used in the earlier petition
  • Employees will need to bring copies and originals to their interview
  • Employees will need to be vaccinated before travel
  • Form I-129 for each selected employee: $460 each
  • American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) fee – $750-$1,500, unless exempt
  • Fraud prevention and detection fee: $500
  • Public Law 114-113-$4,000 to be submitted by a petitioner that employs 50 or more employees in the US and more than 50% of those employees have non-immigrant status.
  • Premium processing service fee: $1,440, if applicable

When your employees finally land

Now that your vaccinated, visa-approved H-1B top talent is approved and settled in the U.S. — what’s next? It can help to create a welcoming atmosphere in the workplace and ensure that their onboarding program is up-to-speed. Get more tips and tricks in our Inclusion in the Workplace guide.

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