February 2, 2024

Employers, Get Ready: H-1B Cap Lottery Season Is Almost Here

Holland & Knight Alert
Nora Katz | Hadeel M. Abouhasira


  • The annual H-1B Cap Lottery runs from March 6 to March 22, 2024.
  • A total of 85,000 visas are available for professional workers in specialty occupations.
  • To prepare, U.S. employers should review their active employee rosters and prospective hires to identify employees who may need or would benefit from H-1B visa sponsorship.

Beginning March 6, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will conduct its annual H-1B Cap Lottery to award H-1B slots for professional workers in specialty occupations. There are a total of 85,000 visas available each year, including 20,000 slots reserved for candidates who earned a Master's degree or higher from a U.S. educational institution. To allocate these limited slots, USCIS conducts an annual lottery to randomly select which employees may be sponsored for H-1B status.

This year, H-1B cap registrations may be submitted from 12:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 6, through 12:00 p.m. ET on Friday, March 22. To address issues of fraud and misuse, USCIS has announced changes to the registration process. USCIS will begin using passport numbers or travel document numbers to select lottery registrations, meaning that each beneficiary will be entered into the lottery only once, regardless of the number of registrations submitted on their behalf. (See Holland & Knight's previous alert, "USCIS Takes First Step Toward Modernization of the H-1B Program," Feb. 1, 2024.) If a beneficiary is selected, all employers who filed a registration will be notified and eligible to file an H-1B petition on behalf of the beneficiary. USCIS has also announced a new organizational account system for the cap registration process, which will be available to employers beginning on Feb. 28.

In preparation for this year's H-1B Cap Lottery, U.S. employers should review their active employee rosters and prospective hires to identify employees who may need or would benefit from H-1B visa sponsorship. A list of potential H-1B candidates includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • recent college and university graduates present in the United States in F-1 student status who are working pursuant to optional practical training (OPT or STEM OPT)
  • student workers in school in F-1 status who may be working pursuant to curricular practical training (CPT)
  • employees or candidates currently in H-4 or L-2 status who are working pursuant to their spouse's H-1B or L-1 immigration status
  • employees in TN, E or H-1B1 status for whom an employer is considering pursuing permanent residence
  • candidates abroad or in the United States who are subject to the annual H-1B cap
  • employees in another nonimmigrant status (such as L-1B) who are approaching the maximum limit of their status and would benefit from a change of status to H-1B
  • candidates who work for a different employer in another nonimmigrant status and may require an H-1B visa to change jobs
  • candidates who work for a nonprofit, exempt entity and have never been counted against the H-1B cap

For additional information regarding the H-1B Cap Lottery, please contact the authors or a member of Holland & Knight's Immigration, Nationality or Consular Team.

Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem, and it should not be substituted for legal advice, which relies on a specific factual analysis. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult the authors of this publication, your Holland & Knight representative or other competent legal counsel.

Related Insights