The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on December 6 that it is implementing an electronic registration process in the next H-1B lottery. Employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap will be required to complete an online registration process and submit basic information about their company and each requested worker. Employers also have to pay a $10 H-1B registration fee. The new registration process will go into effect for the 2021 Fiscal Year.

The H-1B filing season for FY 2021 starts April 1, 2020, for employers that wish to sponsor a full-time H-1B worker. Each year, USCIS grants 65,000 new H-1B visas. In addition, USCIS grants 20,000 new H-1B visas for employees with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. Historically, employers have filed about 200,000 applications for the 85,000 H-1B slots.

The purpose of the new system is to run the H-1B random selection process on the electronic registrations. Only employers with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. In the past, employers filed their full H-1B cap-subject petitions with USCIS, after which USCIS selected eligible petitions through a random selection process.

This new system means that for the upcoming H-1B 2021 cap season, companies would be required to pay $10 and register their applicants’ names into an electronic lottery. USCIS will conduct a random selection of all registrations received during the initial registration period and only companies who receive a registration number will be allowed to submit a full petition. 

USCIS announced that the initial registration period will open from March 1 through March 20, 2020.

USCIS has not yet published instructions on completing the registration process and has indicated that it will post key dates and timelines as the initial registration period nears. Employers intending to petition for an H-1B worker for the H-1B 2021 cap season should plan ahead and contact our offices.

Ballard Spahr's Immigration Group helps employers address the many immigration-related issues they face when recruiting and retaining a skilled, legally compliant workforce


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