USCIS Announces Implementation of Electronic Filing for H-1B Petition for FY 2021 Cap

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the electronic registration process proposed in 2019 will be implemented for H-1B petitioners seeking to file cap-subject Petitions in 2020. The electronic registration requirement will fundamentally change how the H-1B lottery is administered and should reduce the burden of paperwork for employers and for USCIS.

As a reminder, the USCIS fiscal year begins on October 1, 2020. Because employers can file an H-1B Petition as much as 6 months in advance of the start date, the H-1B Petition cap opens on April 1, 2020, for the 2021 fiscal year. The new system will require employers to submit information to the H-1B registry before the H-1B lottery. Unlike previous years, a completed H-1B petition and accompanying Labor Condition Application (LCA), do not have to be submitted until after a beneficiary is chosen in the lottery.

Registration for H-1B Petition Cap

Details of the registration process are still forthcoming – we expect to learn specifics of the process in January and will update the FordMurray blog as we know more. But we do know that to register electronically, an employer will be required to create an account, which will include the employer’s name, FEIN and mailing address and the employer’s authorized representative’s name, job title and contact information. Then, the employer will register the beneficiary, submitting the beneficiary’s full name, date of birth, country of citizenship, gender and passport number. The registration will also indicate if the beneficiary has obtained a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution. Employers must submit a $10 registration fee for each beneficiary.

The USCIS will open this registration period from March 1 through March 20, 2020. During this 20-day period, should the USCIS receive enough registrations to fill the available H-1B numbers, the registration system will be closed and the USCIS will, again, conduct a random lottery to determine whether an employer can obtain an H-1B for a given worker and position.  

H-1B Cap Lottery and Selection

As with last year’s H-1B lottery, USCIS will hold the lottery for 20,000 advanced degree holders first. Once the advance degree lottery is held, a general lottery for the remaining 65,000 available slots will be held. Advanced degree holders not selected in the first lottery will be entered into the general lottery.

If a beneficiary is chosen in the H-1B lottery, the employer will have at least 30 days to submit a completed LCA and H-1B petition. For this reason, if an employer is planning to hire on an H-1B visa, it is important to identify employees as early as possible and begin the process of compiling information that will be needed for the application and LCA.

If you are an employer who would like to learn more about the H-1B process, download our H-1B Employers Guide. We also offer complimentary consultations to assess your case.