On January 9, 2020, USCIS formally announced details of the new H-1B cap registration process for FY 2021.
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa suitable for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent and a job offer from a sponsoring employer in a specialty occupation that is related to their field of study. Currently, the H-1B visa cap stands at 85,000 visas for college graduates, 20,000 of which are allocated solely to applicants with U.S. master’s degrees. The number of applications each year significantly exceeds the number of available visas. In 2019, a total of 190,098 H-1B applications were submitted to USCIS. As a result, USCIS runs a lottery every year to select 85,000 total applications to adjudicate. To learn more about the H-1B visa and your eligibility, please click here.
Previously, H-1B applications were physically mailed to USCIS during the first week of April to be registered for the lottery. USCIS would then run the lottery and return the unselected application packages. Starting this year, USCIS is introducing an electronic registration process. Instead of physically mailing applications in early April, employers will create an online account and electronically register each individual foreign national they would like to sponsor for the lottery. Once registered, USCIS will run the lottery and only selected applicants will submit their paper applications to USCIS for adjudication. If selected, the company will have 90 days to prepare the H-1B petition for filing. For more information about the proposed changes to the H-1B application process, please click here.
The following is a summary of the information that has been provided at this time regarding the new registration system:
Electronic Registration Process
Based on USCIS’ beta-testing phase, it is likely that USCIS will use the myUSCIS online portal to host the registration process. The webpage currently lists “H-1B Registration” but the link is not yet active. The myUSCIS online portal also hosts the online filings of Forms I-90, N-400, N-600, and I-130.
The initial registration period will start on March 1, 2020. It is anticipated that the registration will close on March 20, 2020, however this has not been confirmed yet. The lottery will run between the day the registration closes and March 31. USCIS intends to notify selected applicants by March 31. USCIS will notify the account holder of the selected applicants by email or text messaging.
Employers and their legal representatives can set up accounts on the USCIS website to register foreign national applicants. The H-1B application is an employer-sponsored visa, therefore the employee applicant will not be able to set up an account and register independently of the employer.
There is a $10 nonrefundable fee for each registration. The fee will be paid online on the Pay.gov portal and must be paid by the petitioning employer, not the foreign worker.
Is there a limit to the number of applicants per account?
There is no limit to the number of registered applicants a company or their legal representatives can submit to the lottery. Legal representatives may also submit multiple registrations for multiple companies.
How long do employers have to submit the application to USCIS once they find out that the foreign national was selected in the lottery?
USCIS will provide more details on the filing period in the notice of selection. It is anticipated that petitioners who have foreign nationals selected in the lottery should be able to begin filing applications starting on April 1, 2020. Petitioner should have at least 90 days from the date of registration selection to submit a complete H-1B petition to USCIS.
What Information Do You Need to Register for the Lottery?
Based on the screenshots provided by USCIS, the following information will be required to register an applicant.
Petitioner information (Employer)
- Legal name of the prospective petitioning company or organization
- The Doing Business As names of the prospective petitioning company or organization, if
- Employer identification number (EIN) of the prospective petitioning company or
- Primary U.S. office address of the prospective petitioning company or organization
- Legal name, title, and contact information (daytime phone number and email address) of
- the authorized signatory
Applicant information (Employee)
- Beneficiary’s legal name
- Beneficiary’s gender
- Does the beneficiary have a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education such that the beneficiary is eligible for the advanced degree exemption under INA 214(g)(5)(C) and requesting consideration under the advanced degree exemption?
- Beneficiary’s date of birth
- Beneficiary’s country of birth Beneficiary’s country of citizenship
- Beneficiary’s passport number
No information regarding the offered position will be required as a part of the registration process. A Labor Condition Application (LCA) is not required to be completed prior to the registration process. However, some employers may prefer to obtain the LCA in advance of the registration as a certified LCA must be included with the H-1B petition filing and preparing this in advance will allow the petition to be filed more quickly after the lottery process is complete.
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