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USCIS Implements a New Electronic H-1B Registration Process

12/12/2019
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The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a change to the process of filing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including petitions for those eligible for the advanced degree exception.
 
The Change 
 
The major diversion from the process of selecting cap-subject H-1B applicants is that they’re now required to register online during an initial registration period. For the upcoming year, the registration period is between March 1st and March 20th. If the number of applicants exceeds the cap, the USCIS will randomly select H-1B recipients from the pool of registered online applicants. Ultimately, only those people who have registered electronically—and, in the event of a lottery, have been selected—will qualify to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. 
 
The move to online registration comes as no surprise; we wrote about it first back in December 2018 and again in February 2019
 
The Registration Process
 
The new online registration process will only require basic information about the worker and the company requesting a visa for the worker. The USCIS is charging a non-refundable $10 fee to register for a cap-subject H-1B visa. It’s worth noting that an applicant selected through the electronic H-1B registration process is not immediately awarded a visa. If selected, they’re still required to go through the application process. 
 
A Quick Guide to the Electronic H-1B Registration Process 
 
The USCIS opens initial online registration (requiring just basic information) between March 1, 2020 and March 20, 2020
Lottery for H-1B applicants who registered electronically (if needed)
Employers of chosen applicants are eligible to file cap-subject petitions 
 
Former H-1B Process
 
If you’re unfamiliar with the way the USCIS managed cap-subject H-1B petitions formerly, every cap season, employers filed full petitions for sponsored applicants. If the number of applicants exceeded the cap, visa beneficiaries were chosen through the H-1B visa lottery. In fiscal year 2020, the USCIS received 201,011 H-1B petitions to fill the congressionally mandated cap, along with the 20,000 additional H-1B visas available through the US advanced degree exemption, sometimes called the master’s cap.
 
Why the Change
 
Many immigration professionals are dubious of the change in the H-1B process. Their primary concern is that the USCIS requirement for only basic information about the candidate and business will flood the system with non-meritorious applications. The USCIS disagrees; according to USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans, “By streamlining the H-1B cap selection process with a new electronic registration system, USCIS is creating cost savings and efficiencies for petitioners and the agency, as only those selected will now be required to submit a full petition.” 
 
GoffWilson Immigration Law
 
With over 30 years of practicing immigration law—and having processed thousands of H-1B visas over that time—GoffWilson is the go-to source for immigration information. Although we’re still waiting for the USCIS to release information on key dates, timelines, and how to register electronically, we encourage our clients to contact us immediately if they’re planning on filing for any H-1B visas, either new or in OPT. Let us help you strategize the best way to find and keep your professional employees in a tight labor market. GoffWilson solely practices immigration law—contact us today and let us put our passion to work for you.
Filed under:H-1B Visa, Immigration Law