For some years now, there has been a separate registration window for US employers who wish to obtain an H-1B visa for their employees. Only individuals who have registered online in advance can be selected to file an H-1B petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. We provide an overview of the H-1B online registration and the subsequent lottery process to select participating individuals and take a look at what's new in the current H-1B Cap Season.

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What is the H-1B online selection process?

Since 2020 or fiscal year FY 2021, US companies filing initial H-1B applications that fall under the annual numerical limitation (= H-1B cap) must first register via the USCIS online portal in order to be eligible to apply for an H-1B visa.

There are 65,000 H-1B visas available each US fiscal year in the regular cap and an additional 20,000 visas in the master's cap for people with a US master's degree.

The demand for the H-1B category has exceeded the supply of available H-1B visas for many years, which is why the USCIS introduced the H-1B online filing process by registration and lottery.

On the one hand, H-1B pre-registration is not as time-consuming as the "actual" H-1B application and, on the other hand, it is still inexpensive this year. This is a great advantage for US employers who are left empty-handed during H-1B pre-registration: Those who were not selected are spared the processing effort of compiling the H-1B file - compared to the previous selection process a few years ago.

H-1B Registration period

The registration period is at least 14 calendar days per US fiscal year. This year, fee-based registration for the H-1B lottery for fiscal year (FY) 2025 took place from March 6, 2024 through March 25, 2024 12:00 noon Eastern Time (ET) or 6:00 p.m. Central European Time (CET). Due to a temporary system outage, the USCIS has extended the registration period, which was originally scheduled to end on March 22, 2024.

Only businesses that create a USCIS online account or register (if an account already exists) during the above time period will be eligible to receive H-1B visas for the upcoming FY 2025.

Bild von einem H-1B Visum

When does an H-1B lottery take place?

At the end of the registration period, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) checks how many online applications have been received.

If a higher number of applicants register on the portal within this registration window than the number of available H-1B visas within the cap, the USCIS will make a random selection. A lottery will be held to select from the pool of people pre-registered via the online portal those for whom H-1B applications can be filed in a 90-day window starting April 1.

To decide how many petitions to select, USCIS relies on data from previous years (e.g., expected rate of H-1B petitions filed by selected petitioners or beneficiaries).

USCIS announced on April 1, 2024 that the selection process for H-1B initial registrations is complete, as sufficient registrations were received during the initial registration period to reach the 2025 H-1B cap.

If the number of participants is less than the number of H-1B visas available each year, all valid H-1B registrations will be selected.

If the H-1B cap is not reached despite sufficient registrations being drawn, a new subsequent selection procedure may be carried out.

A US company can register up to 250 beneficiaries or employees online. Anyone wishing to register additional foreign personnel for H-1B pre-registration must complete an additional company registration.

How much does the H-1B registration cost?

Before online registration can be completed, an H-1B registration fee of $10 per beneficiary or per registration must be paid.

The H-1B Electronic Registration Fee is non-refundable.


Starting in the upcoming US fiscal year FY 2026, i.e. for H-1B registrations in March 2025, this fee will increase to 215 US dollars per filing due to the new fee adjustment.

What information must be provided on the H-1B registration?

As part of the H-1B registration process, potential US employers (= petitioners) who wish to employ H-1B workers, or their authorized representative or individuals, complete an online application with basic information.

For the upcoming H-1B season of the US fiscal year 2025, Organizational Accounts will be used for the first time. This means that several people within an organization or company and their legal representatives can process H-1B registrations, I-129 forms and I-907 forms together. Depending on the access rights and the function (Administrator, Member, Representative or Paralegal), the persons involved receive more or fewer access rights.

Decisive added value: This account can not only be used to register, but also to file the actual H-1B application (I-129) online afterwards if you are lucky in the H-1B lottery. Previously, it was only possible to submit H-1B applications in paper form by mail.

As of February 28, 2024, there will be three types of USCIS online accounts:

1. Registrant Account

This is the account that a prospective petitioner or applicant must create in order to participate in the H-1B registration process.

From February 28, 2024, this will be the organizational account, in which administrators defined by the company set up the respective company group and, if necessary, invite several members / colleagues or legal representatives (individual persons in a company group are still possible).

2. Attorney / Representative Account

Attorneys or authorized representatives (legal representatives) filing H-1B registrations on behalf of a potential petitioner or applicant will select this option.

3 Applicant / Petitioner / Requestor Account

Individuals use this type of account to prepare and file applications, petitions, or other benefit requests. This account type cannot be used to prepare or submit H-1B registrations.

To file H-1B registrations, I-129 petitions or I-907 applications, it is mandatory to use a registrant account. Those who already have an H-1B registrant account do not need to create a new one. As of February 28, 2024, it will be possible to update the existing account in order to use the functions of the new organizational account.

Once the appropriate USCIS online account has been created, the following information must be provided during the H-1B registration process:

US company
  • business name and legal name of the US company
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • US address
  • details of a contact person in the company
Foreign employees
  • full name (first name and surname)
  • gender
  • passport number or travel document details (new mandatory information; this must be used in the further application process and for entry into the USA)
  • country of birth
  • nationality
  • if applicable, select that an application is made for the Master's Cap
Duplicate or incorrect entries can be deleted or changed by US companies up to the registration deadline. The fee of 10 US dollars will not be refunded if you delete a duplicate registration.

Once the registration phase is complete, duplicate filings for the same employee will automatically disqualify all registrations for that individual for that US fiscal year. The fee of 10 US dollars for a removed registration will not be refunded.

Please also note that the USCIS may deny an H-1B petition or revoke the approval of an H-1B petition if it is based on improper registration. In addition, this will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.

Procedure for the H-1B lottery

The H-1B selection process takes place after the initial registration deadline and is conducted among the properly submitted electronic registrations.

After the H-1B lottery has been conducted, a status is stored in the online profile for each registration (i.e. for each registered beneficiary).

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses the online portal to centrally notify all US companies and their employees who were drawn at random (lottery procedure) and who therefore qualify for the "actual" H-1B application round. At the same time, all other registered US companies and their employees can also view the status of their registration.

There are five possible status messages:

1. Selected

The registration was selected and approved for further H-1B processing.

Companies whose potential H-1B applicants were drawn in the registration round have a 90-day window to officially file an H-1B petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for the current fiscal year in the H-1B Regular Cap or Master's Exemption Cap.

The registration was not selected and therefore not taken into account for the current US fiscal year.

An application for an H-1B visa is only possible again in the coming fiscal year.

The registration has been submitted and is eligible for selection. This status will be displayed beyond the end of the first selection procedure (unless it is subsequently declared invalid).

Properly filed registrations that are not selected will initially remain in the system with a "Submitted" status and may theoretically be considered for selection until the end of the US fiscal year (e.g., if a relatively high number of registrations do not result in actual filings with the USCIS during the 90-day filing window).

The registration is therefore on a waiting list. In the event of possible further lotteries and if taken into account, the status would be updated to "Selected" accordingly.

More than one registration has been submitted by or on behalf of the same petitioner for the same beneficiary. This will invalidate and therefore reject all registrations for that person.

A registration has been made, but the payment has failed.


Consideration by the H-1B lottery does not imply automatic approval of the H-1B petition by the USCIS. It only means that the US company is authorized to file an H-1 petition and that it will be processed by the US authorities.

Updates for the current H-1B cap season

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established new rules for H-1B visas for the new season. All registrations and applications for fiscal year 2025 are affected by the following changes:

  1. Changed lottery procedure
    Whereas previously the lottery was based on companies, from now on beneficiaries will be drawn (= beneficiary-centric selection process). The background to this is the dramatic increase in 2023 in the number of beneficiaries who were registered several times via different companies (i.e. had several job offers in the lottery pot). The lottery procedure was modified to prevent possible abuse and to give every foreign person the same opportunities. From now on, the lottery pot will contain the beneficiaries and no longer the companies or registrations. So if a beneficiary has several job offers, i.e. several registrations, this person still only has one lot in the pot (in contrast to the previous year's model).
  2. Passport / travel document information as mandatory information
    When registering online, it is now mandatory to provide passport details or travel document information for beneficiaries. Previously, this information was optional. Please note that the valid passport or travel document provided must be used in the further application process and has been or will be used to enter the United States (depending on whether the person is inside or outside the USA). If, for example, the document expires in the meantime, proof must at least be provided in the subsequent procedure that the application was made with a valid passport / travel document at the time.
  3. Introduction of Organizational Accounts
    The USCIS is introducing organizational accounts on February 28, 2024 to improve collaboration between companies and their legal representatives and for filing H-1B registrations. This will allow multiple individuals within an organization (e.g., a company) and their legal representatives to jointly process H-1B registrations, Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) and Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) or file subsequent H-1B petitions online through these accounts.
  4. Online H-1B application
    H-1B applications can also be filed online for the first time. Of course, applications can still be submitted in paper form.
  5. New USCIS fees
    If a person was randomly drawn, the new USCIS fees will already apply for the new H-1B application round starting April 1, 2024.

H-1B Statistics: Review of online registrations in recent years

Since the introduction of the electronic H-1B registration process, more and more filings have been made. For the most recent fiscal year 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received the highest H-1B registrations ever recorded, so the chance of being considered in the H-1B lottery process was lower than ever.

The large number of valid H-1B registrations for potential applicants (= beneficiaries) with multiple valid applications could indicate illegal collusion between companies. As a result, the USCIS has conducted extensive investigations and denied or revoked H-1B applications accordingly.

In response to these (suspected) illegal agreements and activities, the H-1B lottery procedure for the coming fiscal year has been changed as described above. From now on, the draw will no longer be based on registered companies, but on beneficiaries.


FY 2024 03/01/2023 - 03/17/2023 780,884 758,994 350,103 408,891 188,400
FY 2023 03/01/2022 - 03/18/2022 483,927 474,421 309,241 165,180 127,600
FY 2022 03/09/2021 - 03/25/2021 308,613 301,447 211,304 90,143 131,924
FY 2021 03/01/2020 - 03/20/2020 274,237 269,424 241,299 28,125 124,415


*excluding duplicate registrations, registrations deleted by the potential employer before the end of the registration period and registrations for which no payments have been made.
**In the first selection process, with 110,791 applications, fewer entries were considered than in previous years, as the USCIS expected a higher rate of petition applications from selected applicants