USCIS Announces Implementation of H-1B Electronic Registration Process for Fiscal Year 2021 Cap Season
Today U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it has completed a successful pilot testing phase of its new electronic registration process for the H-1B cap lottery process. As a result, it will implement the new process for the Fiscal Year 2021 Cap Season, commencing in March 2020.
Historically, we would recommend initiation of H-1B cap subject cases in January in order to ensure filing of the petition within the first week of April. This would in turn ensure the H-1B petition would be considered in the lottery, as demand for H-1B visas has historically exceeded the statutorily available supply. However, in 2020 the lottery process will change.
USCIS has issued regulations changing the H-1B lottery and filing process, to include a new system by which employers would first register their intention to file an H-1B. Whether the system would be ready for April 2020 was uncertain. However, USCIS has now advised it is ready to proceed with the new process. Here is what we know:
1. Employers (or their representatives) seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap will complete an electronic registration process that requires basic information about their company and each requested worker. USCIS will charge a $10 fee for each registration.
2. USCIS will open an initial registration period from March 1 through March 20, 2020.
3. Registrations must be submitted electronically. Only one registration may be submitted for each potential H-1B employee. The penalty for submitting multiple registrations for the same employee by the same employer is that all registrations submitted by the employer will be considered invalid for the entire fiscal year.
4. Assuming more registrations are received than there are visas available under the statutory limit, USCIS will then conduct a lottery of the electronic registrations.
5. When the registration period closes USCIS will notify the winners.
6. If selected, the petitioners will need to prepare and submit the full H-1B petition with full filing fees within the filing period. The filing period will be specified on the notice and will last at least 90 days. We estimate that it will take USCIS about two weeks to conduct the lottery and send out notices. We therefore estimate the H-1B petition preparation and filing period will run approximately from the beginning of April 2020 through the beginning of July 2020.
7. The benefit to the above process is that only those registrations which are selected will be fully prepared, thus saving employers the time and expense of the full petition preparation. For employers utilizing our services, there will likely be a legal fee involved in the registration process, in addition to the $10 fee charged by USCIS. The amount will be determined once additional information is released regarding the registration process, what information will be required, and whether any vetting or analysis will be necessary as part of the registration process.
8. The available numbers of H-1Bs remain unchanged:
Regular cap (Bachelor’s degree): 58,200
Regular cap, Citizen of Chile: 1,400
Regular cap, Citizen of Singapore: 5,400
Master’s cap exemption (Master’s degree or higher from a U.S. University): 20,000
Please note that it is not necessary to initiate H-1B cap matters via our portal at this time. LAC will send additional information about the registration process as it becomes available. We will be prepared for submission of registrations for potential H-1B beneficiaries within the window in March.