Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released data showing the total number of annual H-1B lottery registrations received for the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2022. Under the electronic registration process, now in its second year of operation, petitioning employers were already aware of the annual quota (“cap”) being met, with registration selection notices being released in late March 2021. Yet, many employers were eagerly awaiting verification of the total registrations received by USCIS for the upcoming fiscal year.

USCIS announced that the agency received a total of 308,613 H-1B cap registrations, of which USCIS issued 87,500 registration selections in March 2021. The number of registration selections issued represents the quantity that USCIS projects would be required to meet the annual regulatory quota of available new H-1B visa number allocations. Congress mandates approximately 65,000 visas under the general cap, with an additional 20,000 H-1B visas set aside for persons with an advanced degree from a U.S. college or university (i.e., the “U.S. master’s cap”). USCIS also announced metrics that showed more than 37,000 petitioners submitted registrations and that 48 percent of registrants fell under the U.S. master’s cap.

This year’s H-1B lottery registration numbers represent an increase in the total number of registrations received by USCIS. In FY2021, USCIS received 274,237 H-1B registrations, of which 106,100 were initially selected in the lottery in March 2020. Following the initial lottery and the subsequent June 30, 2020, filing deadline for selected petitions, USCIS determined that the cap had not been met, thus triggering a second lottery. In August 2020, USCIS conducted a second smaller lottery and issued an additional 18,315 registration selection notices. The resulting total number of selected petitions was 124,415 in order to reach the 85,000 H-1B visas allocated under the cap.

USCIS has indicated that it needs to monitor the total number of cap petitions filed by the June 30, 2021, deadline in order to determine whether a second “mini lottery” will be necessary again this year. Given that USCIS has initially accepted a smaller number of registrations this year to meet its fixed annual quota, it appears that a second lottery remains a possibility.

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