H-1B Visa Lottery Results
The H-1B lottery results for fiscal year (FY) 2024 were announced on March 31, 2023. This year, USCIS received a record-breaking number of registrations, with over 483,000 registrations submitted for 85,000 available visas. This means that the odds of being selected in the lottery were just 18%.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require a bachelor's degree or higher. The visa is highly sought-after by foreign workers, as it allows them to live and work in the United States for up to six years.
The lottery process is used to select H-1B applicants for the limited number of visas that are available each year. Applicants are randomly selected from the pool of registered applicants, and those who are selected are then able to file a petition with USCIS for an H-1B visa.
This year's lottery results were particularly disappointing for many applicants, as the odds of being selected were even lower than in previous years. This is likely due to the fact that the number of H-1B visas has remained unchanged for several years, while the number of applicants has continued to grow.
The low odds of being selected in the H-1B lottery have led to calls for reform of the program. Some have suggested that the number of H-1B visas should be increased, while others have proposed that the lottery system should be replaced with a first-come, first-served system.
Applicants filing for a An Extension or Change of Status to H-4, L-2 and E visas do not need to submit Biometrics
USCIS has extended the temporary suspension of the biometrics submission requirement for certain applicants filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, requesting an extension of stay in or change of status to H-4, L-2, or E nonimmigrant status. The previously announced suspension, which was initially in place until May 17, 2023, has been extended through Sept. 30, 2023.
USCIS will allow adjudications for those specific categories to proceed based on biographic information and related background checks, without capturing fingerprints and a photograph. However, it retains discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to require biometrics for any applicant, and applicants may be scheduled for an application support center appointment to submit biometrics.
As a reminder, if you are a Form I-539 applicant meeting the biometrics suspension criteria, you do not need to submit the $85 biometric services fee for Form I-539 during the suspension period.
DHS Publishes Federal Register Notice Extending and Redesignating Somalia for Temporary Protected Status
The Department of Homeland Security today published a Federal Register notice extending and redesignating Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from March 18, 2023, through September 17, 2024. The notice provides information about how to register for TPS under Somalia’s redesignation. On January 12, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the 18-month extension and redesignation of Somalia for TPS.
The registration process begins on March 13. All individuals who want to request TPS under Somalia’s designation must apply.
The extension of TPS for Somalia allows approximately 430 current beneficiaries to retain TPS through September 17, 2024, if they re-register and continue to meet TPS eligibility requirements. The redesignation of Somalia for TPS allows an estimated 2,200 additional Somali nationals (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia) who have been continuously residing in the United States since January 11, 2023, and continuously physically present in the United States since March 18, 2023, to file initial applications to obtain TPS, if they are otherwise eligible.
Re-registration is limited to individuals who previously registered for and were granted TPS under Somalia’s prior designation. Current beneficiaries under TPS for Somalia must re-register in a timely manner during the 60-day re-registration period from March 13, 2023, through May 9, 2023, to ensure they keep their TPS and work authorization. DHS recognizes that not all re-registrants may receive a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before their current EAD expires and is automatically extending through March 17, 2024, the validity of certain EADs previously issued under Somalia’s TPS designation.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will continue to process pending applications filed under Somalia’s previous TPS designation. Individuals with a pending Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, or a related Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, as of March 13, 2023, do not need to file either application again. If USCIS approves a pending Form I-821 or Form I-765 filed under the previous designation of TPS for Somalia, USCIS will grant the individual TPS through Sept. 17, 2024, and issue an EAD valid through the same date.
Under the redesignation of Somalia, eligible individuals who do not have TPS may submit an initial Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, during the initial registration period that runs from March 13, 2023, through Sept. 17, 2024. Applicants may also apply for TPS-related EADs and for travel authorization. Applicants can request an EAD by submitting a completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with their Form I-821, or separately later.
USCIS Announces Premium Processing for Certain F-1 Students
Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the expansion of premium processing for certain F-1 students. For the first time, Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, is also available to file online for students seeking optional practical training (OPT) or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) OPT.
The premium processing expansion for certain F-1 students will occur in phases.
Beginning March 6,USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed via paper form or online, for certain F-1 students who have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if they are filing under one of these categories:
• (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT;
• (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT; and
• (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students.
Beginning April 3, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed via paper form or online, for F-1 students in the above categories when filed together with a Form I-765.
USCIS will reject premium processing requests for a pending Form I-765 under these eligible categories if USCIS receives the request before March 6. USCIS will reject premium processing requests for a concurrently filed Form I-765 if USCIS receives the request before April 3.
To file Form I-907 online, you must first create a USCIS online account, which provides a convenient and secure method to submit forms, pay fees, and track the status of any pending USCIS immigration request throughout the adjudication process. There is no cost to set up a USCIS online account, which offers a variety of features, including the ability to communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox and respond to Requests for Evidence online. If you have previously filed a USCIS form online, you may use your existing USCIS online account.
Applicants who previously filed a paper Form I-765 and wish to file Form I-907 online to request premium processing should reference the USCIS Account Access Notice they received for the Online Access Code and details on how to link their paper-filed cases to their online account, or they will not be able to file Form I-907 online and will need file a paper Form I-907 with the Chicago lockbox.
Only certain F-1 students seeking OPT or STEM OPT extensions may file Form I-907 online at this time. Applicants who file a paper Form I-907, or any other USCIS form, can still create an online account to track the status of their form throughout the adjudication process, even if they did not file the form online. To find more information about which forms are available for online filing, visit our Forms Available to File Online page.
USCIS Reaches H-2B Cap for Second Half of FY 2023 and Announces Filing Dates for the Second Half of FY 2023 Supplemental Visas
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received enough petitions to meet the H-2B cap for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2023 and is announcing the filing dates for supplemental H-2B visas for the reminder of FY 2023 made available under the FY 2023 H-2B supplemental visa temporary final rule.
H-2B Cap for Second Half of FY 2023
USCIS has received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of FY 2023. February 27, 2023 was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date on or after April 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2023. USCIS will now reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after February 27, 2023, that request an employment start date on or after April 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2023.
On February 27, 2023, the number of beneficiaries for whom USCIS received petitions surpassed the total number of remaining H-2B visas available for the H-2B cap for the second half of FY 2023. In accordance with regulations, USCIS determined it was necessary to use a computer-generated selection process intended to ensure the fair and orderly allocation of H-2B visa cap numbers available, without exceeding the FY 2023 cap. On March 1, 2023, USCIS conducted the selection process to randomly select petitions from those received on February 27, 2023. Upon completion of this random selection process, we assigned all selected petitions a receipt date and began premium processing services.
We continue to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for current H-2B workers in the United States who wish to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers; fish roe processors, fish roe technicians and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam (until Dec. 31, 2029).
Filing Dates for Second Half of FY 2023 Supplemental Visas
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) jointly published a temporary final rule on December 15, 2022, increasing the numerical limit (or cap) on H-2B nonimmigrant visas by up to 64,716 additional visas for all of FY 2023. These supplemental visas are available only to U.S. businesses that are suffering irreparable harm or will suffer impending irreparable harm without the ability to employ all the H-2B workers requested in their petition, as attested by the employer on the DOL Form ETA 9142-B-CAA-7. These supplemental H-2B visas are for U.S. employers seeking to petition for additional workers at certain periods of the fiscal year before September 15, 2023.
Below are the filing start dates for each of the remaining supplemental visa allocations under the temporary final rule:
For employers seeking nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti: USCIS will begin accepting petitions for employers requesting an employment start date from April 1, 2023, to September 30, 2023, on March 14, 2023. USCIS began accepting petitions from employers with employment start dates from October 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, in December 2022. A cap count for this Northern Central American/Haiti allocation is available on the Temporary Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2023 page.
For employers seeking workers for the early second half of FY 2023 (Apr. 1 to May 14): USCIS will begin accepting petitions for the additional 16,500 visas made available to returning workers regardless of country of nationality on March 14, 2023.
For employers seeking workers for the late second half of FY 2023 (May 15 to Sept. 30): USCIS will begin accepting petitions for the additional 10,000 visas made available to returning workers regardless of country of nationality on April 13, 2023.
USCIS has already announced that it has received enough petitions to reach the cap for the additional 18,216 H-2B visas made available for returning workers for the first half of FY 2023 with employment start dates on or before March 31, 2023.
USCIS Issues Clarifying Guidance for Individuals Authorized to Work Under Special Student Relief Provisions
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify the validity period of employment authorization for F-1 nonimmigrant students experiencing severe economic hardship due to emergent circumstances (also known as special student relief (SSR)) who are work authorized under the SSR provisions of 8 CFR.
The update clarifies that in cases of severe economic hardship due to emergent circumstances, we may grant off-campus SSR employment authorization to an F-1 nonimmigrant student for the duration of the Federal Register notice validity period. This employment authorization may not extend past the student’s academic program end date. This update notes that we may issue employment authorization documents for the duration of the Federal Register notice, which is typically an 18-month validity period, as permitted by the relevant SSR Federal Register notice.
Emergent circumstances are events that affect F-1 nonimmigrant students from a particular region and create severe economic hardship. These events may include, but are not limited to, natural disasters, financial crises, and military conflicts.
This policy update will be effective when published and will apply to all pending and future applications for SSR employment authorization.
Washington Post: Durbin, Graham Unveil Immigration Legislation at an Urgent Time for Dreamers
The Washington Post reports that as the future of the DACA program hangs in limbo, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC) introduced the Dream Act on Friday. The legislation would allow people who were brought to the United States as children and who have a high school education and college enrollment, employment, or military service to earn residency and eventually citizenship
Bloomberg Law Reports DOS Is Planning Pilot for Domestic Visa Renewal
Based on an exclusive interview with Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, Bloomberg Law reported yesterday that DOS will launch a pilot program later this year offering stateside visa renewals for H-1B and other temporary visa holders.
U.S. Officials Prepping Legislation to Revamp Asylum System
Reuters reports that the Biden Administration is developing a sweeping bill that would revamp the U.S. asylum system to speed up the resolution of claims in large-scale processing centers at the border with Mexico. The effort emerged as border crossings have reached record highs and immigration courts face steep backlogs
EAD for Hong Kong Residents Have been Automatically Extended
We are automatically extending through Feb. 5, 2025, current Hong Kong DED-related Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) with a Card Expires date of Feb. 5, 2023, and a Category of A-11. You may present this EAD as evidence of identity and employment authorization for your Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.