USCIS Has Changed Its H-1B Lottery Rules For Fiscal Year 2021
DON’T MISS THE EARLY DEADLINE!
In the past, employers wishing to submit H-1B petitions on behalf of potential employees subject to caps were forced to go through the entire lengthy H-1B application process and ensure that the application arrived precisely in the first few days of April. This means, of course, that employers using immigration attorneys were forced to pay fees associated with the entire application process prior to even knowing whether the prepared petitions would be selected.
As of this year’s lottery season, the rules have changed. Employers no longer have to submit entire petitions in the first few days of April, but they MUST ELECTRONICALLY REGISTER BETWEEN MARCH 1 and MARCH 20, 2020.
Employers familiar with this process may be unlikely to miss this deadline because by March 1 they usually are working to get their H-1B ducks in a row in time for submission in the first days of April. However, inevitably there are last-minute stragglers attempting to obtain LCAs and put together applications just in time to overnight packages on the last possible day. Employers should be careful not to wait too long this year; once the March 20, 2020 registration deadline has passed, unregistered employers wishing to submit H-1B applications may be out of luck until fiscal year 2022.
Beginning March 1, 2020, employers may register electronically for each H-1B beneficiary they wish to enter the lottery. To register electronically, USCIS will require the name of the petitioning employer, the employer’s EIN and address, and the name, contact information, and title of the employer’s authorized signatory. USCIS will also require the H-1B beneficiary’s legal name, gender, date, and country of birth, country of citizenship, passport number, and information regarding whether the beneficiary is subject to the advanced degree cap.
That’s it! Compared to the full petition process, the electronic registration process is exceedingly quick and simple. Employers can register up to 20 beneficiaries per submission and pay only a $10 registration fee for each beneficiary, all of which can be done online.
USCIS will then run the lottery based on the electronic registrations and notify employers if their potential employees have been randomly selected for consideration. At this point, employers will have approximately three months to complete and submit their full H-1B petitions. Until then, employers will not need to expend the multiple hours of effort collecting supporting documentation or thousands of dollars in legal fees that often result in applications being rejected due to lottery results alone.
We can expect this new procedure to be carefully monitored and probably tweaked in the years to come. Questions remain, for example, as to whether employers may have a second shot at electronic registration if USCIS does not receive enough registrations to merit a lottery (unlikely). And what will happen if USCIS ultimately does not receive an application for a beneficiary selected in the lottery (far more likely)?
However, for now, this streamlined process is set to save employers a good deal of time, effort and expense that often goes unrewarded if applications are not selected. Further, one may assume that the reduction in paperwork flooding the desks of USCIS employees alone should have a noticeable impact on response times and general efficiency across the board, which historically are not USCIS strengths. Accordingly, the new process promises benefits for everyone interacting with USCIS (except perhaps the lawyers, but at least we can be happy for our clients).
More information on this topic can be found online at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.