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Proposed Rule Changes for H1B Visa Program: Lottery, Others Summary

The H1B Visa program is one of the most sought-after work visa programs for anyone planning to build a career in the US. Due to significant demand, some bad actors try to leverage the loopholes in the system to their advantage, like submitting multiple H1B Registrations to increase their chances in the H1B visa Lottery.

The US Department of Homeland Security(DHS) & USCIS have had an agenda item to modernize the H1B Visa program and fix many of the loopholes in many regulatory agendas. Finally, they published a draft rule on modernizing the H1B visa program at the federal register today. We summarize the key areas of the proposed changes to the H1B Visa program and what remains the same, including some common FAQs.

Background of “Modernize the H1B Visa Program” Regulation, Structure

The original proposal to modernize the H1B Visa Program started back in June 2021 when the regulatory agenda was published for Spring 2021. This was the very first regulatory agenda for the Biden Administration. Since then, it has appeared in 5 regulatory agendas, and finally, they made it a point this time around to make it happen.

See the below screenshot that shows the history, as it appears at RegInfo.gov

Modernize H1B Requirements and Oversight Proposed Rule History of Appearance
Modernize H1B Requirements and Oversight Proposed Rule History of Appearance

Structure of the “Modernize H1B Visa Program” Proposed Regulation

The proposed regulation to modernize the H1B Visa program is a 227-page document and is mainly structured around three areas:

  1. Modernization of the H1B Visa Program: Change various H1B visa program-related aspects on how the adjudication happens, program-related definitions, focusing on increasing the H1B program’s overall efficiency.
  2. Add new benefits & flexibilities: Provide additional benefits and flexibilities for H1B visa applicants, and F1 visa holders to effectively use the program without impacting the business.
  3. Increase the Integrity of the H1B Program: Add more guardrails to the H1B Program to avoid fraud around H1B Lottery/registration system, employment offers, site visits, Employer-Employee Relationship, etc.

It is important to note that all the items that are discussed below in the proposed regulation are not final. They are in the draft stage and are now out for public comments under Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Some or many of these things may change in the final regulation based on public feedback.

The proposed regulation has many items that are already in practice by USCIS for adjudication but never codified(made part of the official rule book) in the regulation. So, they have added some existing rules/ practices in this proposed regulation as well to codify the same.

To make it easier for everyone, we have divided the overall topics in the proposed regulation into two broad categories:

  1. New Proposed Changes to the H1B Visa Program
  2. Existing H1B Program Practices or Rules that are Codified

Let’s look at topics under each of these broad categories.

New Proposed Changes to the H1B Visa Program

Below are the various new proposed changes to the H1B Visa Program. We have divided them into subsections for easy review.

H1B Visa Lottery – Multiple Offers as One Registration

H1B Registration process is subject to a lot of fraud, with a record number of 781K registrations received in FY 2024 season. DHS proposes introducing H1B Lottery selection based on a unique individual’s passport number. Even if the applicant has multiple offers from different companies, still the applicant would be treated as one entry for the lottery, and selection will be based on the unique passport number.

With the new approach, there is no advantage anyone gets by having multiple offers and there is less incentive to do fraud. If an applicant is selected, all the employers who registered for the same applicant would be notified and they can file H1B on behalf of that applicant. They plan to implement this change for the next fiscal year(FY) 2025 which starts in March 2024, if all goes well.

F1 Cap Gap to be extended until April 1st Next Year

Currently, for F1 Students who apply for an H1B petition as a change of status, the cap gap is given only until October 1st. Due to delays in adjudication, many students are not able to work beyond October 1st due to the current rule. DHS is proposing to change the end of cap gap from October 1st to April 1st of next year to avoid these issues.

For example, if you are filing for H1B Visa petition for FY 2025 season in June 2024 and availing cap gap, then you can continue to work until April 1st, 2025. Under the new provision you can continue to work beyond October 1st, 2024 until April 1st, 2025 while you wait for the decision on your petition from USCIS.

Company Majority Owners can sponsor their Own H1B Visa

USCIS is proposing to encourage entrepreneurship by enabling foreign nationality entrepreneurs to sponsor an H1B Visa for themselves by the company they own, if they meet some conditions as below:

  • If a person owns more than 50% of a company, they must spend more than 50% of their time on specialty occupation-related duties. They are free to perform any non-speciality occupation activities in the remaining time, like administration, hiring, etc. Basically, it means that, if you are a Software Engineer Founder and own over 50% of the company, then you must spend over 50% of your time doing Software Engineering Tasks.
  • USCIS would only issue 18 months of initial approval for applicants who fall into the above criteria, the first extension would be 18 months as well. After that, the subsequent extensions would be standard with 3-year extensions.

Change to Definition of Speciality Occupation

DHS proposes changing the definition of specialty occupation to be more specifically tied to the job duties and needing a specific degree rather than a general bachelor’s degree. For example, under the new definition, a requirement that says a general MBA or general Engineering degree will not be sufficient to qualify for an H1B specialty occupation.

Site Visits No longer Voluntary

Currently, participating in USCIS FDNS site visits for H1B holders is not mandatory. It is up to the employee to voluntarily participate or choose not to cooperate, there was no impact of not participating or cooperating during the site visit.

DHS is proposing to change the current voluntary participation to mandatory. Under the new changes, USCIS could conduct site visits on-site, at you home, at client location, interview the managers, verify records, etc. Failure to cooperate or provide all the details as requested by the USCIS officer could result in consequences such as denial or revoke of your H1B petition.

Approval with Submitted Expired Documents, Extend Validity Period

Currently, in situations such as RFE or Motion to re-open or reconsider, during the decision time due to delays, the approval requested dates would have passed. DHS is proposing to approve such petitions or have their validity period dates extended as needed. Also, request relevant updated documents like updated LCA, and wage documents, as needed, if the petition is eligible for approval.

H1B Cap Exemption Flexibility

DHS wants to give more flexibility for anyone leveraging the H1B cap exemption petition under universities, non-profit research or Govt. research institutions. Under the proposed changes, an applicant of H1B cap exempt petition needs to work only at least half of the time under the cap-exempt category sponsored entity. Also, they are revising some terms on the definition of the non-profit to give more flexibility.

For example, if someone has filed for H1B under cap exempt under a non-profit research organization, then they only need to work for up to 50% of their time for that non-profit research organization. For the rest 50% of their time they can work in a for-profit company such as Hospital, or any other company.

H1B Start Date anytime during Fiscal Year

Under the proposed regulation, employers can request any date within the particular fiscal year for the new H1B cap-subject petitions. They are not forced to indicate October 1st as the start date for the new H1B petitions filed under that fiscal year.

Existing H1B Program Practices or Rules that are Codified

Below are various H1B Program-related adjudication practices that are currently used by USCIS that are either codified (made part of the official rule) or modified minorly and codified. These are not new per se, but rather made part of the official rulebook.

  • Amendments of H1B Petitions: Codifying the changes on when amendment needs to be filed, LCA requirements for amendments, etc. This is based on Matter of Simeio Solutions decision
  • Deference for H1B approvals: Codify deference policy for H1B approval for extensions where the same parties are involved and the facts related to the petition remain same.
  • Maintenance of Status Documents: All petitions needs to submit evidence proving the maintenance of status of the applicant in the form of pay slips, tax returns, contracts, etc. to prove the same.
  • Removal of the need for Itinerary requirements: Codify that there is no need to submit a detailed itinerary related to the H1B-related work as it is already captured on H1B LCA
  • Multiple Registrations by related entities: Codify that related entities cannot file multiple H1B registrations for the same applicant. The current rule is tied to multiple H1B petitions from related entities.
  • False Information, Attestation during H1B Registration Submission: Codify that the information that employers cannot enter false information or do false attestation during H1B registration submission. It will lead to revocation or denial, if done so.
  • Bona Fide Job Offers, Contracts, Non-speculative Employment: DHS is codifying the requirements that the job offers have to be bona fide for H1B petition. Also, the evidence, such as contracts, work orders, MSAs, etc. needs to be submitted to show the proper relationship and the work. The employment must be for a real position and cannot be speculative in nature.
  • H1B LCA, Remove Employer-Employee Relationship: DHS is codifying that the H1B LCA should correspond to the actual position and they will adjudicated based on the DOL SOC Code, wage level, etc.. They are also removing the old employer-employee relationship definition based on Neufeld memo.
  • Third-party placements: DHS is adding additional text to clarify that the work done at third party location has to be speciality occupation in nature and cannot be some random work.

We have covered most of the important aspects in the 227-page proposed regulation by DHS.

Next Steps on H1B Rule Changes Regulation

Starting from today, October 23rd, 2023, DHS is giving 60 days for public comments under the NPRM process of 9 Step Federal Rule Making Process. The last date for submission of the comments is December 22nd, 2023.

Public ( individuals, organizations, law firms, nonprofits, etc) can submit their feedback on the proposed changes until December 22nd, 2023. DHS would review all the comments and then do relevant changes to the proposed rule and then publish a final rule.

Until final rule is published, nothing listed above is implemented. So, please do not assume anything and confuse yourself.

Common FAQs

When are the proposed new H1B Rules effective?

We do not have a date yet from DHS. They are still in NPRM stage and not final. We will know a date once final rule is published.

Will the new H1B Lottery Selection Process based on Passport number start for FY 2025?

We do not know at this point. DHS wants to implement it for FY 2025 season, but we do not know at this point as there is no final rule released yet for the same.

Are there any H4 Visa-related changes in the proposed rule?

No, there are no specific rules tied to the H4 visa holders in the proposed regulation. Most of these are related to the primary H1B Holders.

Will the new proposed H1B rules help reduce fraud?

The main intent of the proposed rules is to reduce fraud. Some of the proposed rules around H1B Lottery are mainly to prevent fraud. We need to see how it will pan out in course of time.

What do you think of the New H1B proposed regulatory changes? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.


Other Articles


  1. Under the new h1b rule changes, USCIS could conduct site visits on-site, at you home, at client location, interview the managers, verify records, etc. Failure to cooperate or provide all the details as requested by the USCIS officer could result in consequences such as denial or revoke of your H1B petition.

    Is this implemented? please confirm

  2. Dear Kumar,
    I have a question. This is related to another article of yours (second master’s OPT). I apologize for posting that here. I would, although, highly appreciate your reply.

    I earned my first master’s (STEM) in 2021, applied for OPT, was approved, and used it for 3 months before my subsequent degree program (PhD, same STEM) started, but now in the middle of this PhD program, the school can no longer financially support me, so I have to graduate with a second master’s soon. Will I be able to apply and be approved the unused 9 months of OPT? Have you seen the actual case approved?

    More information:
    – My USCIS history says the OPT/EAD has been “terminated” 3-4 months after my start date by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (=new degree program).
    – ICE confirmed that I have a start date and end date in my employment section on my OPT I-20, but they said I would not be able to apply for OPT now, saying that once it’s claimed, it is claimed. They also said talk to USCIS, but the USCIS agent on the phone could not give me an answer (they have not enough knowledge).
    – 3 months of employment was actually at my current phd institution as a research employee, and the OPT use was requested by my academic advisor at the time to have me start working early.
    – From my Knowledge 24 STEM extension would not be possible for me.

    • Redbus,
      You would not be able to get the 12 months OPT as it was approved by USCIS. It does not matter, if you used 3 months or full 12 months. Once they issue it and approved for 12 months, it is gone. Now, as your first masters is STEM Degree, you must be eligible for 24 month STEM OPT. You can use that now and apply for STEM OPT. Talk to your DSO. Check the article STEM OPT – Second Masters, it is now updated

      • Thank you for your response. STEM extension can only be applied within one’s OPT period. Therefore, I can’t apply for that unless there are any exception rules. If you have any resources that enable STEM OPT application after the OPT end date (more than a year ago), could you let me know?

          • Sir, that document says “If you are currently participating in OPT based on a master’s degree in business administration but you previously received …”. This clearly says “IF” you are currently on an OPT based on your most recent degree, then you can apply for STEM OPT retroactively. You told me in your previous answer, I cannot get an OPT based on my current and second master’s degree. Thus, I cannot apply for the STEM OPT, either, because I cannot be on the OPT months. First line of this document says “Have been granted OPT and currently be in a valid period of post-completion OPT;”. I appreciate your efforts but your article and answer confused me a lot and would have many people as well. I just hope you are somehow correct about my STEM OPT eligibility, but based on this document only, I will not be able to apply.

  3. Does anyone know successful immigration lawyers in the DC area whom my daughter can consult? Her F1 visa expires in December 2025, and her current employers are not sponsoring her work visa.

    • Mubita,
      Her visa expiry does not matter, it is her OPT expiry that matters. Options are simple, try to find a job at a company that can sponsor H1B. Just google, there are plenty of attorneys listed. There is nothing much they can add as this is a simple answer.

  4. Everyone,

    Please post your comments as much as possible in below link on Specialty Occupation change.


  5. Many startups by highly skilled beneficiary- owners having majority of ownership in the business, sponsoring themselves for an H1B visa involves upfront investment and may not see positive cash flow for at least few months or much longer depending on the nature of business like in research and development. If they are to adhere to DOL’s prevailing wage requirements and be paid by their own company as a salary, this would limit the extent they can grow their business as they would use some or significant portion of their capitol money to pay themselves as a salary to not jeopardize H1B status rather than taking risks on investments to grow their business faster and create jobs faster.

    • Dileep,
      Agree, this is true, if you are bootstrapping everything. Having said that, if the company raised a seed or pre-seed round, then it makes life much easier to work for your own company on H1B visa. This proposed change definitely would help in that case.

  6. Does it mean that who are from non computers background are not considered for H1B ? Ex- 10 + years IT experience guy with ECE engineering degree will not be considered as speciality occupation ?and won’t be approved for H1 extension ?

    • MrS,
      Not necessarily. Usually education is one component, experience is another component that is used for validating eligibility. Education can be offset with experience as well. Their main objective is to describe the position needs someone with special skills. With experience, this can change.

      • Yes, most probably as it does not mention anything about work experience being counted . Previously work ex. was used to prove this. It is better to comment on the proposed rule against this restrictive language and make our voices heard.

      • Thank you Kumar . I see good number of comments are posted already . Good to see that people are talking about it . This is much required .


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