F-1 OPT provides a valuable on-ramp for employers who use the H-1B visa 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 the competitive H-1B 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, H-1B 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
Electronic registration for the H-1B 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.