Fresh registrations for the electronic filing of the US H-1B visa for FY22 begins on March 9, 2021. The selection of candidates will be based on a lottery, with the possibility of a wage-based selection of petitions from next year.
The registration window will be open till March 25. The selected registrants will be notified on March 31, 2021, and they can start filing the applications starting April 1, 2021.
Every year the US issues 85,000 new H-1B visas and Indians and Indian IT service firms are one of the largest beneficiaries of the visa.
Every year the petitions exceed the total visas issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Last year, the USCIS received close to 2.67 lakh registrations of which more than 60 percent were from India.
In such instances, the USCIS used the random selection process to select the candidates. However, the immigration agency had to go for a second lottery in 2020, for the first time in 30 years, as it did not get enough applications to fill the annual quota of 85,000 visas.
Second lottery, COVID-19
This was at the back of uncertainty around COVID-19 and entry restrictions to the US as IT firms decided to forgo filing fresh petitions. The USCIS announced that the H-1B quota was filled last month.
IT executives have said business travel is likely to resume in the coming quarters. But with work from home gaining traction, it is not clear if FY22 would see a similar trend.
Wage-based lottery selection
This is also likely to be the last year where a lottery-based selection would be used. This could be replaced with a wage-based selection of applications starting next year.
The wage-based selection of H-1B petitions that was expected to come into effect on March 9, 2021, is under review by the Biden administration. The administration has currently put this on hold till December 31, 2021.
This would impact the hiring of freshers and those with fewer years of experience as those with higher salaries have better chances of getting selected.