Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

Here’s another edition from “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at tech companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that empowers people around the world to rise above the limits and pursue their dreams,” said Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”

BestFitnessBands+ members get access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; Use promo code ALCORN to buy a one or two year subscription with 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

I graduated in December and am currently working on OPT for an early stage biotech startup. I’m not sure how much my employer knows about the H-1B lottery process or if they intend to put me in the lottery.

I’ve heard that the next lottery won’t select H-1B candidates based on the highest paid salaries. What else do I need to know?

— Gifted Grad

Dear gifted,

How nice of you to think ahead about the lottery! I recently spoke about the future of immigration, including work, climate change and more with futurist and BANI Framework inventor Jamais Cascio. This podcast sheds some light on the context of global highly skilled immigration and future trends specifically impacting the global job market for the US.

For H-1B and other legal questions, as always, I recommend that your employer work with an experienced immigration attorney to guide you through the petition process.

No pay-based H-1B lottery yet!

The March H-1B raffle remains a random selection process, at least for now. In September, a federal district court invalidated a final rule issued by the United States Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), that allegedly changed the H-1B lottery from a random selection to a procedure with the highest pay priority. A wage-based selection process for the H-1B lottery would have placed disadvantaged startup startups and recent graduates, who typically earn entry-level wages, at a disadvantage.

According to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy, a random H-1B lottery process makes international students and graduates 54% more likely to be selected to apply for an H-1B compared to a wage-based selection process.

However, the Biden administration has supported a wage-based H-1B lottery system, so the Department of Homeland Security could one day try again to make the change.

A composite image of immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a BestFitnessBands logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (Opens in a new window)

Registration for the lottery

As you already know, the H-1B visa requires an employer to sponsor you, so be sure to discuss sponsorship with your employer as soon as possible so you can both prepare. If your company does not already have an immigration attorney, they should hire one as soon as possible. The attorney will guide them through the process of creating an online USCIS account to register you and other candidates they would like in the lottery. Your company must pay the $10 non-refundable fee to register each candidate.

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