Timeline and Proposed New Rules for the H-1B Lottery in 2025


It is that time again to talk about the H-1B visa. This year, new rules and a new timeline may be in place for the H-1B lottery. Still, we put together this guideline for your companies to get a head start.

Below is what to do and when to do it to help prepare for H-1B filing:

  • Early January: Identify your H-1B needs and reach out to our firm to discuss and finalize the list of applicants.
  • Late January: Have potential employees with foreign degrees gather and request required transcripts and experience letters to be ready to obtain a foreign credential evaluation.
  • Early February: Determine the H-1B minimum wage and work on developing detailed job descriptions and job titles/codes and gather company and employee supporting documentation. Validate new companies with the Department of Labor.
  • March 1 through March 20: Submit the H-1B registration.
  • March 20 through June 15: The lottery results start to come in. Prepare and file the LCA. Also, prepare all H-1B forms, Support Letter, and other required supporting documentation. Mail the H-1B petitions to the USCIS.

The Law Office of Zhang in San Francisco stands ready to offer guidance and support in navigating the intricacies of the H-1B visa process. Contact us at (415) 761-2732 today.

Background of the H-1B Lottery

The H-1B visa program is a pivotal gateway for skilled foreign workers seeking employment in the United States. Designed to attract professionals in specialized fields, the program has an annual cap to maintain a balance. The regular cap is 65,000, while an additional 20,000 slots are for advanced degree holders.

The demand for H-1B visas consistently surpasses the allocated quotas. When companies file more applications than available visas, the process transitions into a lottery system. This lottery, implemented to facilitate fairness and equal chances, randomly selects applications to meet the annual limit.

For fiscal year 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported a noticeable surge in H-1B visa registrations. The overall number of registrations and instances where multiple registrations were submitted for a single individual increased. Additionally, the USCIS observed a rise in unique beneficiaries linked to only one registration.

The table below* shows the agency’s lottery selection percentage for eligible registrants:

Fiscal Year

Eligible Registrants

Eligibles Selected

Percentage of Selections

















* Source: USCIS ‘H-1B Electronic Registration Process

Proposed New Rules for FY 2025

Understanding the H-1B lottery's intricate processes and requirements becomes pivotal for employers and prospective employees navigating the complexities of this highly sought-after visa category. The USCIS proposed substantial changes to the 2025 fiscal year H-1B lottery rules.

While it is still early to predict whether the new rules will apply to the 2025 H-1B lottery, let’s look at the major changes proposed.

These potential updates include the following:

  • Introducing unique identifiers: Observing a surge in instances where multiple applications were submitted for the same beneficiary, the USCIS is exploring the possibility of requiring unique identifiers, such as passport numbers, during the registration phase. This proposed change aims to address concerns surrounding the unequal advantage gained by those filing multiple registrations for a single applicant. The USCIS seeks to promote transparency and equitable chances for all H-1B visa lottery participants.
  • Changing the H-1B Application: In a proactive move to combat fraudulent activities during registration, the USCIS is contemplating strengthening the electronic registration process. This potential enhancement seeks to fortify the system against unauthorized attempts, ensuring the authenticity of registrations submitted by employers and individuals. Moreover, the agency is contemplating implementing a second-round lottery if a substantial number of initial registrants are invalidated.
  • Extending cap-gap protections for F-1 students: To streamline the transition process for F-1 students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) shifting to H-1B status, the USCIS is considering a significant adjustment. The proposal revolves around extending the automatic cap-gap protection until April 1 instead of the traditional date of October 1. This move is designed to prevent disruptions in employment authorization for F-1 students during the critical transition period.
  • Addressing petitions for entrepreneurs: The USCIS is considering a provision to tackle scenarios where a potential H-1B applicant has a controlling interest in the company filing the petition. The provision aims to accommodate situations where beneficiaries, while maintaining a controlling interest, actively contribute to the specialized functions crucial to the success of the petitioning entity. Initial approvals for entrepreneurs will be valid for up to 18 months.

Navigating the H-1B Lottery and Beyond

Regarding visa applications, especially within the context of the H-1B lottery's uncertainties, understanding alternative pathways becomes paramount for aspiring immigrants seeking opportunities in the United States. Exploring these options and accessing professional guidance can significantly impact the trajectory of applicants navigating the complex visa landscape.

For individuals not selected in the H-1B lottery, exploring alternative work visa categories emerges as a viable avenue. Options such as the intracompany transferee visa (L-1 visa) or the extraordinary ability visa (O-1 visa) offer potential alternatives for qualified candidates.

Identifying and pursuing these alternatives necessitates astute guidance and insight, particularly in the intricacies of immigration law. Legal assistance is pivotal in helping applicants maneuver through the complexities of the H-1B lottery and explore alternative visa pathways.

With nuanced understanding and experience, legal professionals provide invaluable support by evaluating individual circumstances, identifying viable options, and navigating the rigorous application processes for alternative visa categories. Seeking such guidance is instrumental in maximizing opportunities and facilitating a smoother path toward pursuing a suitable visa in the United States.

Contact The Law Office of Zhang at (415) 761-2732 for assistance embarking on the immigration journey with informed clarity. We provide legal representation in San Francisco.

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