Our Guide to the 2024-2025 H-1B Visa Lottery and CAP Season

27. Feb. 2024

The new year is in full swing and it is time to start preparing for the FY2025 H-1B cap filing season.

Immigration Law Group (ILG) provides employers and H-1B hopefuls with decades of business immigration experience, including specialized expertise in the H-1B cap process. Over the years, our attorneys and legal staff have successfully assisted corporations (big and small) and foreign nationals from all over the world with the legacy H-1B cap process and the newly-instituted registration system. With ILG, H-1B hopefuls are able to secure H-1B visas efficiently and painlessly. If you would like additional information on all of our services and the ways we can help with your immigration needs, please feel free to contact us for a personalized consultation.

But if you just need to cut through all the noise and avoid time-consuming Internet searches or confusion brought on by too much legalese found in other outlets, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will serve as a quick-reference for all the news, information, updates, and data you will need for the FY2025 H-1B cap season.

NOTE: Information included in this guide is accurate as of the publication date. Policy changes and relevant news from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be incorporated as they occur.

The Basics of the H-1B Visa Cap & Lottery System

The H-1B visa classification was created by Congress to enable U.S. companies to employ foreign nationals in the U.S. in skilled, specialty occupation positions, i.e., jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher and the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in fields such as architecture, engineering, medicine, mathematics, science, law, business, or the arts.

In creating the H-1B visa category, Congress mandated that a cap or quota would be placed on the amount of visas available. Currently, there are 65,000 H-1B visas in the “regular cap” and 20,000 in the advanced degree exemption or “master’s cap,” which is only available to individuals who hold a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Any petitions that are cap-exempt, or not subject to the cap, will not be counted towards the 85,000 visas available in the H-1B lottery.

The first step in the process is for the employer, or ILG acting as the authorized representative, to register all potential workers in the electronic registration system and pay the $10 registration fee. Registration consists of entering basic data of the company and worker into an online portal. The company must complete an electronic registration for each beneficiary/worker and is limited to only one registration per H-1B worker.

Once registration closes, USCIS conducts the H-1B lottery as a two-part, random selection process used to determine who may submit an H-1B petition to receive the available visas. The first part is the regular cap and is open to anyone who is properly registered. The second part, or master’s cap lottery, is only open to those with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Starting with the FY2025 CAP season, the registration process will be beneficiary-centric. This means that USCIS will select beneficiaries based on a unique identifier, like a passport number or travel document number, rather than by registration.

If a worker is selected, the employer (or its representative) is required to confirm through the electronic system that an H-1B petition will be filed for the selected worker.

For all approved H-1B petitions subject to the cap, the beneficiary’s official start date in H-1B status will be October 1, 2024, or the approval date, whichever is later.


The H-1B Registration Process and Timeline for FY2025

The electronic registration process is fairly straightforward, but certain instructions must be followed during a given time period to ensure registration is properly completed. Only properly submitted registrations will be considered in the visa lottery selection process, and only selected beneficiaries will be permitted to have cap-subject petitions filed on their behalf.


H-1B FY2025 Timeline_Immigration Law Group LLP


Registration Step-by-Step

  • Create an organizational account in the myUSCIS account portal starting Noon EST on February 28, 2024.
  • Lottery selection commences. USCIS conducts the lottery in two waves, beginning with regular cap and ending with master’s cap.
  • USCIS notifies selected registrants on or by March 29, 2024.
  • The 90-day filing window opens and petitioners may begin filing petitions on April 1, 2024.

How to Avoid a Denial at the Registration Stage

  • Submit a complete and accurate registration between Noon EST on March 6, 2024 and Noon EST on March 22, 2024.
  • Submit only ONE registration per beneficiary and employer/sponsor. Employers may submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries and a beneficiary can be sponsored by multiple employers, but there can only be one registration per beneficiary-employer combination.
  • Register the beneficiary with the passport or travel document they will utilize to enter the U.S. if they are issued an H-1B visa.

Documents and Information to Prepare - Employer

  • Employer’s name
  • Company’s Federal Employer Identification Number (or Federal Tax Identification Number)
  • Official business address
  • Official contact information
  • Lawyer’s contact information

Documents and Information to Prepare - Beneficiary

  • Full, legal name
  • Birthdate
  • Country of residence and citizenship
  • Valid passport or travel document – This must be the document the beneficiary will use to enter the U.S.
  • Gender
  • Education details – Receipt of a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution is relevant for master’s cap


Determining Whether You Have Been Selected for the FY2025 H-1B Lottery

USCIS will officially announce when the selection period has begun, but attorneys and petitioners may receive email notifications regarding selection shortly before this announcement. When notification is received, you will be directed to sign in to your myUSCIS account to view the registration status update. Possible status updates include: SUBMITTED, SELECTED, NOT SELECTED, or DENIED. Depending on your status update, your case will be treated as follows: 

  • SUBMITTED----Your registration has been successfully submitted. USCIS is considering registration and no decision regarding selection or denial has been made. If a “submitted” registration has not been changed to “selected” by October 1, 2024, it will change to “not selected” on that date.
  • SELECTED----Your registration has been selected and a petition may be filed based on the filing timeline USCIS provides in the selection notice.
  • NOT SELECTED----Your registration was not chosen. As multiple selection rounds may occur throughout the Spring, Summer, and (possibly) Fall, this status will not be shown on an account until October 1, 2024.
  • DENIED----An improper registration was submitted and the registration has been denied.


H-1B Lottery Historical Trends & Forecasts

Pursuant to regulation, USCIS considers historical data regarding approvals, denials, revocations, and registrations to determine the number of petitions it needs to receive in order to meet the H-1B cap each year. Because registration numbers are part of their methodology, USCIS keeps records on the number of registrations received per year and the number of selected registrations that did not result in an H-1B filing. This information helps USCIS determine how the overall process should be structured, i.e., the launch of organizational accounts and introduction of new rules to reduce fraud in the registration process for FY2025. It also helps USCIS determine how many selection rounds it needs to conduct to reach the numerical cap for a fiscal year.

For instance, 308,613 registrations were received for FY2022 and USCIS initially selected 87,500 registrations to reach the yearly cap. FY2022, however, was a low filing volume year, requiring a 2nd and 3rd round of selections. During these rounds, more than 44,000 additional registrations were selected, resulting in a final total of 131,924 selected registrations (or approx. 42.7% of registrations received) for the fiscal year.

Based on this outcome as well as other historical data, USCIS initially selected more registrations for FY2023. Out of the 483,927 H-1B registrations it received that year, 127,600 were selected during the initial selection period. This projection was sufficient to meet the annual quota and USCIS did not require any further selection rounds for FY2023. 

The FY2024 registration period continued the upward trend in registrations, but at an extremely high rate due to a rise in registrations for beneficiaries with multiple registrations. Indeed, USCIS received 780,884 registrations last year and 408,891 of that total were for beneficiaries with at least one other eligible registration. Though USCIS ultimately made 188,400 selections after two rounds of random selections, the sharp increase in registration numbers raised concerns within USCIS, leading it to develop several measures to combat fraud and ensure fairness in the registration process and H-1B lottery system. Please refer to our blogs, “DHS Issues Modernization Proposal that Could Positively Change the H-1B Lottery System” and “USCIS Announces New Rule Aimed at Strengthening H-1B Program,” for more detail on these measures and other changes to the H-1B program.


H-1B Historical Statistics_Immigration Law Group LLP


For additional data on H-1B registrations and filings by year, including employers, employment locations, approvals, and denials, check out USCIS’s H-1B Electronic Registration Process and H-1B Employer Data Hub pages.


What Will an H-1B Visa Petition Cost in 2024-2025?

H-1B fees are subject to change but fee increase announcements are made in advance to allow all parties sufficient time to prepare.

The 2020—2021 (FY2021) cap season marked the beginning of the H-1B registration process, adding a new $10 fee to the H-1B fee schedule. In the 2024-2025 (FY2025) cap season, premium processing fees will increase as well. H-1B applicable fees are as outlined below. 

H-1B Cap Fees_FY2025

As there are several fees, exceptions/caveats for fee payments, preferred methods of payment (lump sum vs. separate checks), and required payors, retention and consultation of immigration counsel is advised.


So You’ve Been Selected for the H-1B Lottery, Now What?

First, USCIS will notify petitioners or their representatives to check their myUSCIS account for a status update by March 29, 2024. If selected in the lottery, your status will read “SELECTED.” You will also receive the following communication from USCIS:

Sample Cap Selection Notice_Immigration Law Group LLP

Second, petitioners may begin filing H-1B petitions on April 1, 2024, electronically or physically. The new 04/01/2024 version of Form I-129 must be used as of this date. The exact 90-day time frame within which you may file will be indicated on Form I-797C as shown in the graphic above. Only one petition may be filed by an employer for the selected beneficiary.

Third, once your H-1B petition is filed at the appropriate location or service center, a receipt notice to confirm receipt and commencement of processing will be issued.

Fourth, an immigration officer will review the petition to determine whether it is approved or denied.

For approved H-1B cap-subject petitions, H-1B employment and status begin on October 1, 2024 even if cases are approved well before that date. After approval, you will receive a notice that resembles the following:


NOTE: Your options for working in or entering the U.S. prior to October 1, 2024 depend on your location (in the U.S. vs. outside the U.S.) and current nonimmigrant status (e.g., F-1, L-1, O-1, etc.) at the time of filing.

  • Beneficiaries in the U.S. working under another nonimmigrant status that will not expire before October 1 – You may continue to work in the U.S. in your current nonimmigrant status as long as you maintain that status and it remains valid.
  • Beneficiaries in the U.S. working under another nonimmigrant status that will expire before October 1 – You may continue to work in the U.S. in your current nonimmigrant status until it expires. An extension petition should be filed on your behalf before this expiration date or before your 60-day grace period ends, otherwise you may need to leave the country. If this happens, you may re-enter in H-1B status on October 1 to begin working for your H-1B employer.
  • Beneficiaries outside of the U.S. – You will need to make an appointment at your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy and proceed with consular processing to obtain your new H-1B visa stamp.
  • CAP GAP – Available to F-1 students with a cap-subject petition and change of status request timely filed on their behalf. F-1 status and current employment authorization are extended to September 30, 2024 if the previous authorizations would have otherwise lapsed by then, filling the “gap” in time between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status.

As discussed throughout, the overall immigration process is very detailed and precise. USCIS also has its own preferences that it advises all parties follow to ensure the H-1B process is as efficient as possible. Failure to follow these guidelines may result in a return or rejection of your petition, request for additional evidence, denial, or visa revocation some years later. There are also eligibility concerns that may not be readily apparent to the average person. Therefore, it is recommended that employers engage immigration counsel to help avoid filing pitfalls and determine if there are any potential roadblocks in a beneficiary’s case.


This blog article is the opinion of Immigration Law Group LLP and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Should you require legal advice or a more thorough assessment of a specific situation, please contact our office for an appointment or consultation.

Immigration Law Group LLP has served Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area since 2001. Corporations retain us to manage complex corporate immigration matters facing their employees around the world. Whether you require immigrant or non-immigrant services for a small startup or a large, multi-national enterprise, our team leverages decades of experience as well as innovative case management technology to ensure your company is positioned for success in an ever-changing global marketplace. If you would like to know more, please contact us today at (408) 432-9200.