H-1B Lottery Ends: You’ve Been Selected! Now What? 

April, 2024 - Barbara W. Menefee, Nathan Hall

On April 1, 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that its initial registration selection process, commonly known as the H-1B lottery, is complete. This means the USCIS has selected enough initial registrations to meet its numerical limit for both the standard H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption, often referred to as the “master’s cap.” Each beneficiary who registered should now be labeled as having been selected, submitted (for those not chosen) or as being denied or invalidated for technical reasons, such as a duplicate registration or failed payment. Those selected will have at least 90 days from April 1, 2024 to file their H-1B petitions, making the filing cutoff June 30, 2024. After this period, the USCIS will likely make a second round of selections to meet their numerical quotas given that not every selected registrant files a petition. Last year, the announcement for the second selection was made on July 27, 2024, and we expect the USCIS to follow a similar timeline this year.  However, a second selection is not guaranteed. Below are some important reminders for your H-1B registrations and selections moving forward.

Growing Pains

This year was the first time using the USCIS’s online, beneficiary-centric system, and some users say the registration process was frustrating. Between a glitch-riddled interface and a temporary outage that some users experienced, the USCIS opted to extend the registration period until March 25, 2024, three days past the originally scheduled end. As an important note for company administrators and attorneys, there has been a reported problem of selected beneficiaries having their registrations labeled as “Submitted” instead of “Selected.” However, once you click into the registration on the system, it is apparent that the registrant was selected to have a petition filed on their behalf. It is always important to check registrations individually, but with the mislabeling of some registrations, it is especially important this cycle.

Filing the I-129

Now that the registration process and selection have been completed, selected beneficiaries may have H-1B petitions filed on their behalf starting April 1, 2024. There are a few important updates to the process to keep in mind when filing these petitions for Fiscal Year 2025. First, the USCIS has released a new form edition that must be used for all petitions postmarked on or after April 1, 2024. 

Related to the new forms, the USICS has increased fees associated with H-1B petition filings, which began on April 1, 2024. For small employers (those having 25 or fewer full-time employees) and nonprofits, the filing fee will stay at $460 for the base filing fee, but for all other H-1B petitions, the base fee will increase from $460 to $780 (or $730 if filed online). In addition, there will be an added $600 Asylum Program Fee to each I-129 filed. This fee is reduced for small employers ($300) and for non-profit employers ($0). Premium processing fees were also increased effective February 26, 2024. For an H-1B petition, the filing fee for the Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, increased from $2,500 to $2,805.

Third, the filing addresses for the Form I-129 have changed. H1B petitions will now be filed at USCIS Lockbox locations, rather than at USCIS Service Centers.  In order to avoid a rejected petition, practitioners and employers should be careful to double-check their filings to ensure they are sending their petitions to the correct addresses. Lastly, the USCIS has warned that there may be significant delays in issuing receipt notices for filed petitions. The USCIS has issued guidance on how to proceed if your receipt is significantly delayed, informing that filing a second petition will result in the denial of both petitions. The USCIS advises to wait 30 days after the confirmation of delivery before contacting the USCIS Contact Center for assistance.

Options for Those Not Selected

It is not necessarily the end of the road if your registration was not selected. You should contact your Dinsmore immigration attorney to discuss various alternatives. If you are employed with a foreign company that has an affiliate, parent or subsidiary branch in the United States, you may be eligible for an L-1 Intracompany transfer visa. For those with extraordinary ability or achievement in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics, you may consider pursuing an O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa. F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) and J-1 intern or trainee visas are available for students and recent graduates.

There are also country-specific alternatives that may be helpful, such as H-1B1 visas (Chile and Singapore), TN visas (Canada and Mexico), E-3 visas (Australia), E-2 treaty investor visas (treaty countries) and work authorization via Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for protected countries.

Certain H-1B visas are cap exempt, meaning they can be filed without having to be counted against the numerical limit set by the USCIS. Cap exempt employers include institutions of higher education, non-profit entities that are affiliated with institutions of higher education, non-profit research organizations and government research organizations. These employers are not subject to the same registration and lottery system and can file H-1B petitions year round.

Congratulations to those who have been selected to file an H-1B cap petition in FY 2025. If you have any questions, need legal representation to file your petition or want to discuss alternative options to H-1B cap petitions, contact one of our experienced Dinsmore & Shohl LLP immigration attorneys.


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