The H1B visa is a United States work visa that is granted to an eligible, temporary worker. In order to apply for an H1B visa, you must receive a job offer from an employer in the US and show proof that you have the required education within the occupation’s field, including a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. In order to begin your process of getting an H1B visa, your employer must file a petition on your behalf. Once you are an H1B visa holder, you will be eligible to apply for a green card.
The demand for H1B visas in the United States continues to grow exponentially, with some immigrantion experts predicting that H1B lottery applications will top half a million in 2023. If you are planning on starting your H1B visa journey next year for FY 2024, this is a great place to start! We’ve created a complete guide to getting an H1B Visa in 2024 including next steps, required documents, what to expect during the process, key dates, and more.
H1B Visa Eligibility
In order to be eligible for an H1B visa, you first need to receive a legitimate offer from an employer in the US. Additionally, the position is a speciality occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge, along with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent education.
Additionally, the employer in the United States must be able to show that they need the foreign worker and that the position cannot be filled by someone in the United States.
Understanding Fiscal Years
The fiscal years for USCIS are different from standard calendar years. The H1B visa lottery has already been filled for 2023. The fiscal year 2023 runs from October 1, 2022, and ends on September 30, 2023. The next H1B lottery is for 2024, which will run from October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2024. The H1B lottery opens up for applications roughly six months prior to the start of the fiscal year that the applications are for.
About the H1B Lottery
Due to the large demand for H1B visas, the USCIS has put a lottery system in place which determines whether or not an applicant is chosen to move forward with their filing for a specific fiscal year. This process allows the USCIS to choose applicants based on random selection in order to meet the annual quota cap.
In order to put your name in the lottery, you need to first find a sponsor. Your sponsor must be a US employer that is both willing to offer you a legitimate position that you are qualified for and to put your name in the H1B lottery electronic portal. To do so, they also need to pay a $10 non-refundable registration fee. This could be a current employer you have if you are looking to come to the U.S., or a new employer if you are either looking to immigrate to the U.S. or are on an alternative stay here already.
The USCIS visa cap for H1B annually is a total of 85,000. This includes 65,000 standard H1B visas, and 20,000 additional which are specifically for advanced degree designations only (Master’s degree holders).
How to Apply for H1B Visa 2024
Step 1: Find a Sponsor
First things first – you need to find an employer that will offer you a position that you are qualified for. They also must be willing to petition for you in the H1B lottery for 2024, which includes paying a $10 fee.
Step 2: Get Petitioned For When the H1B Visa Lottery Opens
The H1B visa lottery electronic portal will likely open in the first week of March 2023. The date hasn’t been announced yet, but March 1, 2023 is a likely date. This will be the lottery for H1B visas for the 2024 fiscal year.
The employer that is sponsoring you will enter in your name when the electronic portal opens. It will remain open for 2 weeks, and then will close.
The results of the H1B visa lottery for 2024 will be available towards the end of March 2023. Your petitioner will be notified if you’ve been chosen, or did not make it this round. If you are chosen, then you will move on to step 3. If you were not chosen, head to the section below covering potential 2nd and 3rd rounds of the H1B visa lottery.
Step 3: Your Petitioner Files Your Application
If you’ve been chosen from the 2024 H1B visa lottery, you’ll have a short window of 90 days (likely starting in early April 2023) for your petitioner to move forward and file your application. This will be a filled out Form I-129, along with all other required documents and fees.
Required documents may include:
- Approved LCA (Labor Condition Application) from employer
- Copy of passport
- Copy of degrees/educational certificates/transcripts
- Letter of current employment
- Copy of previous employment/experience
- Copy of any certifications/achievements
Fees are subject to change, but typically cost anywhere from $4,000 to $9,000. This is sponsored by your employer.
Step 4: Receive Your H1B Visa Stamping
After your petition is filed, you may have to wait a few months before receiving the decision from the USCIS. Premium processing is an option if you need faster processing, but will cost you $2,500.
If your petition is approved, the next step is to get your visa stamp. First, you’ll need to gather all necessary documents for your application and interview.
You’ll also need to complete a Form DS-160, pay your visa fees, and schedule both your biometrics appointment and interview appointment.
After your interview and biometrics appointments, you’ll wait for the decision from the consulate. If approved, you’ll receive your H1B visa stamping along with H1B visa foil glued in your passport.
Additional Rounds of H1B Lottery
If you are not selected in the first round of the H1B visa lottery, but have a valid petition, you will be placed into a pool of unselected applications. If the H1B visa cap is not reached from selections made in the first round, a second round will be held. This second round will select additional applicants who will be able to file their petitions. Similarly, if the cap still isn’t reached from the second round, a third round will be held. This is done in order to ensure that the H1B visa cap is reached.
We hope that this guide is helpful for your journey in getting an H1B visa to work in the United States. Start planning now and finding a sponsor early so that you are set to be entered into the H1B visa 2024 lottery when it opens up in March 2023. Check back for more information on the exact dates for the H1B visa process for 2024 when they are announced some time in January of 2023.