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January 20, 2020

H-1B Filing Season Set For March 1-20 Using New Lottery System

Employers wishing to sponsor H-1B work visas for foreign nationals can enter this year’s H-1B lottery without submitting complete petition packages, but employers should prepare for an earlier lottery season.

Under the new H-1B lottery system, lottery entries will be accepted from March 1 to 20, 2020, rather than the standard April filing period previously used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Under the new system, a lottery entry will require information about the employer and the foreign national, but not a full petition. Only employers with entries selected in the lottery will be required to submit full H-1B petitions for processing. Employers seeking H-1B visas this year should contact us soon to begin preparation for the earlier lottery period.

H-1Bs can be a useful tool for employers in filling hard-to-fill positions in information technology, engineering, science and other fields requiring at least a bachelor’s degree. In particular, employers who currently employ recent university graduates pursuant to Optional Practical Training should consider filing H-1B petitions for those foreign national employees. H-1Bs are also available for foreign nationals currently residing outside the United States.

During last year’s H-1B filing season, employers filed more than 200,000 petitions for the 85,000 H-1Bs available, once again prompting allocation of H-1Bs via lottery. We anticipate similar or increased demand for 2020, due in part to the new and easier method of entering the lottery. Foreign nationals holding a U.S. master’s degree face better odds in the lottery because 20,000 of the available H-1Bs are set aside for those individuals.

If you would like to discuss the H-1B option or other employer-sponsored visa options, please contact Warner attorneys Angela Jenkins or Michael Wooley.

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