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What documents needed for H-1B lottery?

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Only 85,000 H-1B visas are issued each fiscal year, with 65,000 for applicants with a bachelor’s degree or higher and 20,000 for those with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution. Due to high demand and the cap on the number issued each year, a lottery system is used to randomly select which applicants receive an H-1B visa.

If you are an employer interested in sponsoring a foreign worker for an H-1B visa, you will need to prepare and submit the required documents for the H-1B lottery. Here is an overview of what documents you will need.

Labor Condition Application

The Labor Condition Application (LCA) is a required form that must be certified by the Department of Labor (DOL) before an H-1B petition can be filed with USCIS. The LCA attests that you will comply with requirements regarding wages, working conditions, strikes/lockouts, and notice. Key details on the LCA include:

  • Information about the employer and employer identification number
  • Details on the specialty occupation
  • Information about the number of workers being requested, their work location(s), wages, dates of employment, and work hours
  • Agreement to comply with LCA requirements and conditions

The LCA must be submitted and certified before the H-1B petition filing. You should allow at least 7 business days for processing.

Form I-129 Petition

The Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker is the actual H-1B petition that must be filed with USCIS. Some key components of the H-1B petition I-129 include:

  • Information about the employer and foreign worker
  • Details on the proposed job duties, specialty occupation, dates of employment, and location
  • Education credentials and work experience of the foreign worker
  • LCA information
  • Relevant fees

In additional to filing Form I-129, you will need to include supporting evidence to strengthen the petition such as:

  • Copy of the certified LCA
  • Letters from employers detailing the foreign worker’s employment history
  • Diplomas, transcripts, and licenses showing qualifications
  • Documentation on the specialty occupation

Having a complete and well-documented H-1B petition is key to increasing the odds of being selected in the lottery and securing approval.

Filing Fees

There are fees associated with the LCA and H-1B petition that must be submitted:

  • LCA fee – $460 fee is required when submitting the LCA to DOL
  • I-129 fee – $460 base fee for Form I-129. An additional $500 fraud prevention and detection fee may also apply unless you are exempt.
  • Premium processing – Optional $1,440 premium processing fee to expedite processing to within 15 days.
  • Other filing fees – May include optional fees for public access files and ACWIA fee (for certain employers dependent on size/status).

You must include the appropriate fees or the H-1B petition may be rejected.

When to File

It is crucial to file your complete H-1B petition within the proper filing window. For the regular quota, the filing window is the first business day in April for employment start dates in October of that year.

For example, to request an October 1, 2023 employment start date under the regular cap, you must file the H-1B petition on April 1, 2023. The filing window for advanced degree cap is even shorter.

Missing the filing deadline would require waiting until next April to refile for the next fiscal year’s lottery. Setup a timeline accounting for the LCA processing and create a plan to prepare your petition to ensure you are ready to file on time.

Maintaining Valid Status

The foreign worker beneficiary must maintain valid nonimmigrant status to be eligible for an H-1B change of status or extension of stay. Valid status typically means having an unexpired I-94 date and active underlying visa status (such as F-1 OPT).

An exception is those in H-1B cap-gap extension after F-1 OPT. Be sure the foreign worker does not have a gap in status leading up to the proposed H-1B start date or risk rejection.

Registration Requirement

Before the H-1B petition filing, all employers seeking to file H-1Bs subject to the quota must first electronically register and be selected. This is done through the H-1B registration process which normally occurs in March.

Registration requires details on the employer and foreign worker beneficiary. Only those with selected registrations are eligible to file H-1B petitions when the filing window opens. Having accurate information on the registration is key.

Conclusion

Preparing a complete H-1B visa petition and participating in the lottery can be a lengthy process with strict deadlines. The key documents you will need include a certified LCA, Form I-129 petition with proper fees, and supporting evidence. Eligibility for the visa and being entered in the random lottery depends on filing during the precise window each April.

With strategic preparation, using an experienced immigration attorney, and submitting a high quality petition package, you can maximize your chance of success through the H-1B lottery. Having the right information and documents ready to file accurately and on-time is essential.

Document Key Details When to File
Labor Condition Application (LCA) – Attests to wages, working conditions
– Filed with Department of Labor
– Must be certified before H-1B petition
At least 7 business days before I-129 petition
I-129 Petition – Actual H-1B petition with fees
– Includes proposed job, qualifications
– Supporting evidence should be included
First business day of April for Oct. 1 start dates
H-1B Registration – Required prior to filing I-129
– Electronically register for lottery
– Must be selected to file petition
Normally March prior to filing window

Having the proper paperwork prepared ahead of time will help ensure your H-1B petition is complete andIncrease your odds for the H-1B visa lottery success. Partner with an experienced immigration attorney during the process to ensure you file accurately based on the current immigration regulations and policies.

With strategic preparation and filing your petition during the precise H-1B visa window each April, you will be on the path to success through the lottery system. Filing a high-quality petition supported by the right documentation will maximize your chances.

H-1B Visa Overview

The H-1B visa program allows U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations, such as IT, engineering, mathematics, and more. Here is an overview of key details on the H-1B visa:

  • Dual intent visa – Allows for both temporary employment and permanent residence sponsorship
  • 3 year validity, up to 6 years maximum
  • H-1B extensions allow continuing employment beyond 6 years
  • 65,000 regular cap, 20,000 advanced degree exemption
  • Lottery used to randomly select petitions subject to numerical limits
  • Minimum requirements – Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, specialty occupation

While the H-1B visa is beneficial, obtaining one is challenging due to increased demand and limits on the numbers. Having the right strategy and documents will strengthen your petition and improve lottery odds.

H-1B Lottery Process

Here is an overview of the timeline and process for the H-1B visa lottery each fiscal year:

  • March – H-1B electronic registration period where employers register for the lottery
  • March/April – Lottery held and registrations randomly selected
  • April 1 – First business day in April – Filing window opens for selected registrants
  • October 1 – Earliest employment start date for new H-1B petitions filed in April

Key details on the lottery process:

  • Regular cap petitions have ~30% odds of selection
  • Advanced degree exemption ~55% odds currently
  • Additional selections made if cap not met from initial lottery
  • Unselected registrations voided, must refile next April

Strategic preparation and advanced planning based on the lottery timeline is key to H-1B success.

H-1B Requirements Overview

Here are the key requirements for securing an H-1B visa:

  • Job must a specialty occupation – Bachelor’s degree or equivalent normally required
  • Employer-employee relationship required; remote work generally allowed
  • Prevailing wage must be paid based on job, location, experience
  • Labor Condition Application certified by DOL prior to petition
  • Petition filed by U.S. employer and approved by USCIS
  • Foreign worker maintains valid underlying status during process

Meeting all technical and procedural requirements minimizes risks during the petition process.

H-1B Employer Requirements

For employers filing H-1B petitions, key requirements include:

  • Must be U.S. business entity (corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.)
  • Have valid EIN number from IRS
  • Comply with prevailing wage requirements
  • Maintain public access files as required by DOL
  • No employee displacement or negative impact on U.S. workers

Employers must maintain ongoing compliance even after visa approval.

H-1B Employee Requirements

From the employee perspective, H-1B candidates must:

  • Hold at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience
  • Possess licenses/credentials for specialty occupation
  • Qualify based on specific prior work experience
  • Remain in valid nonimmigrant status before and during petition
  • Only work in the specific role authorized for H-1B

Both employer and employee play crucial roles in qualifying for and maintaining a valid H-1B visa.

Conclusion

The H-1B visa offers a valuable solution for employers to temporarily fill specialty occupation roles with highly educated foreign talent. However, the visa is in increasingly high demand coupled with administrative hurdles and limitations. Having a comprehensive understanding of the H-1B lottery process, documentation requirements, and eligibility criteria is essential for companies seeking to hire H-1B professionals. Strategically compiling a high-quality petition and filing during the precise lottery window will maximize your chances of success.

The H-1B visa provides critical access to foreign workers to fill skill gaps, however, obtaining the visa is challenging due to popularity and limits on numbers. For employers seeking H-1B talent, thoroughly understanding the complex process, paperwork, and timeframes involved is crucial. Strategic preparation and filing a well-documented petition provides the best chance for the randomized lottery system.

Key considerations include eligibility for both the employer and foreign worker, filing of the LCA and I-129 forms, proper fees, and maintaining status. Partnering with an experienced immigration attorney can help navigate the process and lottery successfully. With sufficient planning and a meticulous petition, companies can improve their odds of securing talent through the H-1B program despite the constraints.

The H-1B visa has become tremendously competitive and risky to obtain. Regulations and requirements continue evolving under USCIS policy changes. Staying up to date and ready to file quickly under the precise lottery window timelines is essential. For access to high-skilled foreign talent, companies should prioritize developing a strategy early and execute flawlessly based on the most current immigration landscape.