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Employers: Start planning now for 2024’s H-1B visa registrations

It’s true, 2023 has barely started – but savvy employers who rely on foreign workers to fill certain positions with a high level of expertise know that it’s already time to start thinking ahead for the 2024 H-1B registration period.

As you may already know, the H-1B program has annual caps, and demand has long exceeded the availability of these visas, so employers who intend to sponsor one or more foreign workers in 2024 need to be proactive.

How tight is the cap on H-1B visas and when does registration open?

H1-B visas are capped at 65,000 new visas each fiscal year for foreign workers with bachelor degrees, with an additional 20,000 visas for those who have a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. learning institution. Since the demand is so high, those subject to the cap are chosen via random selection among the applicants.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office operates on its own fiscal calendar, which starts over every October 1, so the 2024 H-1B lottery has to be earlier. (Employees chosen in the lottery will be able to start employment as of Oct. 1, 2023, assuming there are no other hindrances that crop up.)

The initial application process, which requires basic data (the employer’s information, the name of the foreign national they wish to sponsor and what sort of degree that person has) can be submitted as soon as March 1, 2023, but the window for applications closes again just on March 17. The lottery drawing is widely expected to be just prior to April 1, 2023.

If an applicant is chosen, their employer will then have 90 days to file a complete H-1B petition with USCIS, and the lucky recipients who are outside of the U.S. can start to get their H-1B visa stamp on their passports after the first of July. Those already within the U.S. borders will have a status change effective with the start of October.

The constantly changing procedures surrounding the H-1B visa process can easily leave employers frustrated and confused, but experienced legal guidance can help make everything flow smoothly.