Lottery and H-1Bs: “Give Your Dream a Chance”

“Give your dream a chance” is the state of New Jersey’s lottery slogan.  “Somebody’s gotta win” is the Massachusetts state lottery slogan.  In fact, each state has its own slogan, and these two just happen to resonate with me.  These slogans refer to each state’s random cash lottery options, where you can pay to play and, maybe if you are lucky, win.  For U.S. employers who want to employ global talent this year, they also have to pay to play, and are put in a random lottery in hopes to give their foreign national employee a chance, and just maybe win an H-1B.

There are strict rules for playing this game and the stakes are high. U.S. employers can only file one petition for each foreign national employee it wishes to sponsor.  Moreover, the position must require a minimum of a U.S. bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a specialty field and the foreign national must have earned at least that at the time they file the petition.  There are many other rules and attestations (too cumbersome to outline here) the employer and employee must comply with. The “pay” to play for the H-1B lottery is expensive.  The average petition filing fees range from $1,710-$2,460 (depending on the company size) plus attorneys’ fees to prepare the petition.  Then, the U.S. employer has from April 2, 2018 until April 6, 2018, to precisely file for their chance to win, not a day before or after, and with no missing documents so their submission is not rejected.  It is anticipated that about 200,000 submissions (for 85,000 H-1Bs) will be submitted, so the odds are better than the mega millions, but for U.S. employers looking to staff their next project, or continue work on cutting edge research, or helping launch their product to market, don’t like those odds very much.

The way the lottery works is that if the number of petitions filed in the 5-day filing window in the first week of April exceed the annual cap (85,000), then it triggers the computer-generated random H-1B lottery.  As I mentioned, the expectation is that USCIS will receive at least 200,000 petitions during that period.  Therefore, there will be a lottery.  That means if you are planning to submit for a chance to play, time is running out.  It takes at least 10-14 days of lead-time to prepare and obtain a certification from Dept. of Labor to file an H-1B petition.  Therefore, if you have identified an H-1B candidate to sponsor, you should get started right away, because “someone’s gotta win!”

For more information see:  Link to my previous H bulletin.

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