Here’s another edition from “Ask Sophie”, the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.
“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that empowers people around the world to push beyond limits and chase their dreams,” says Sophie Acorn, a Silicon Valley immigration lawyer. “Whether you’re in people management, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”
australiabusinessblog.com+ members get access to weekly “Ask Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to buy a one or two year subscription at 50% off.
After three attempts, I finally got selected in the H-1B lottery this year! What do we do next?
— Wonder Winner
I’m on VOTE OPT. My employer placed me in the H-1B lottery for the third time this year, but I was not selected again! What shall I do?
— Lottery loser
Dear Wonder and Lottery,
USCIS has received enough electronic lottery registrations to maximize the number of H-1Bs that can be assigned in the new fiscal year.
Thank you both for contacting me! Since your questions concern thousands of others who are in the same situation, I wanted to address them together. My colleague Nadia Zaidi and I offer some advice on both questions this podcast.
Yesterday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has received enough electronic lottery registrations to reach the maximum total number of H-1Bs that can be allocated in the new fiscal year. All employers have been notified if their candidates are selected and the attorney and employer can download the PDF confirmation through the USCIS portal.
The selection messages trickled in over the weekend, also on Saturday and Sunday, well before the end of the month. We don’t yet know how many H-1Bs have been entered in this year’s lottery, but based on the selection rates, many experts estimate that there could have been even more than last year’s record number of 483,927 for the 85,000 places available, because the selection rates for the master cap and regular cap both appear to have dropped for many colleagues in the field.
First, let me elaborate on Wondering’s question and provide some insight into what employers and beneficiaries need to do now for select individuals. Keep in mind – this is just a stepping stone to having an H-1B, and getting selected means you get the chance to applyso you need to keep following this process closely.
Now that my H-1B registration has been selected, what should I do?
First of all, congratulations to you and your employer! This is an important milestone for both of you. If you were an international student in the US, this great move might provide you with a little more convenience, especially if you’ve gone through the lottery for several consecutive years.
You and your employer should familiarize yourself with the process and upcoming deadlines. Your employer has at least 90 days, probably until June 30, 2023, to request a H-1B application on your behalf to USCIS. This requires that you first get approval from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for a terms and conditions of employment agreement (LCA) to attach to the H-1B filing. For the LCA, your employer agrees to pay you the prevailing wage based on your job title and geographic location to ensure you are fairly compensated. Your employer also confirms that hiring you will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. employees.
You must confirm key details, and I always recommend that all employers work with experienced immigration lawyers to file their H-1Bs – the stakes are high and getting the details right is key. Some of the factors to be aware of include where you are in the world and your international travel plans, how long you will maintain your status if you are in the US, whether you are applying for a change of status or consular treatment, and whether you plan to work from home or have multiple workstations.
The earliest you can start working on an approved H-1B is October 1, 2023, the start of the federal government’s fiscal year. If you’re an F-1 student with Optional Practical Training (OPT) or STEM OPT, the two-year OPT extension for STEM graduates, and your final year of eligible work permit expires before October 1, you’ll be fine!