F-1 OPT provides a valuable on-ramp for employers who use the H-1B visa and H-1B visa lottery to fill specialty occupations in their company. Upon graduation from a U.S. college or university, foreign students on an F-1 visa can receive OPT work authorization for 12 months – with a potential for a 24-month extension for STEM occupations with employers that are enrolled in the E-Verify program.
OPT visa holders typically transition to H-1B visas under the H-1B Cap Lottery. The H-1B Cap Lottery is a numbers game – with about 45-47% of petitions historically being selected each fiscal. Thus, the more chances you give your employee to be selected in this competitive lottery, the more likely their petition will be selected. And since you can only submit one registration per employer per fiscal year in the lottery, savvy employers will not wait for a candidate’s OPT to run out to file an H-1B petition. Start early, apply each successive year.
Economic Downturn Could Result in Fewer H-1B Petitions
The FY 2022 H-1B Lottery might provide more opportunities than previous years. Due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This lottery registration is projected to be lower. If an employer has candidates who are subject to the cap – whether on F-1, TN, or E status, this could be the least competitive lottery in the near future, barring any changes to the H-1B petition process.
Electronic Registration Streamlines Filing Opportunities for H-1B Lottery
Electronic registration for the Cap Lottery has lowered the level of commitment for employers to enter the Cap Lottery. Prior to the FY 2021 Lottery, employers were required to prepare and submit completed H-1B petitions to enter the lottery – a time and resource intensive requirement with no guaranteed outcome. With the implementation of electronic registration, employers must only register online through the USCIS portal, and submit a $10 fee to enter the lottery.
The H-1B visa system will likely continue to be the subject of scrutiny and reform. This year’s favorable climate for entering the lottery, coupled with a low investment threshold, should be enough for employers to go “all in” on valued employees. Questions about the H-1B process or how to get started? We offer complimentary consultations for employers – sign up today.