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USCIS Announces H-1B Electronic Registration Requirement for FY 2021 Cap

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It’s official. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that beginning March 1, 2020 through March 20, 2020, the agency will be implementing a mandatory, Internet-based, electronic registration process for U.S. employers seeking to file H-1B petitions for workers subject to either the 65,000 or 20,000 annual numerical limitations for the fiscal year 2021 cap.

All H-1B petitioners seeking to file a petition for the fiscal year 2021 cap, will be required to complete the mandatory registration process by electronically registering online beginning March 1, 2020 through March 20, 2020, and paying the associated $10 H-1B registration fee.

The registration process will require H-1B petitioners or their authorized representatives to provide basic information about the company and each requested worker. As we get closer to the initial registration period, USCIS will provide step-by-step instructions on its website to inform petitioners on how to complete the registration process. These instructions will be shared on our blog as soon as they become available.

Please note that only petitioners with selected registrations will be eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. If USCIS receives submissions in excess of the 65,000/20,000 annual numerical limitations during the authorized registration period, USCIS will be using electronic submissions to conduct the randomized H-1B computer generated lottery.

How is this process different than before?

Previously, H-1B petitioners were not required to submit an electronic registration in order to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. Instead, employers seeking to file an H-1B cap-subject petition, would file their petitions with USCIS beginning on April 1st of each fiscal year. After receiving enough filings for the fiscal year to satisfy the cap, USCIS would select eligible petitions through a randomized computer generated lottery process. Once this lottery was completed, USCIS would notify selected petitioners. Unselected petitions would be rejected and returned to senders.

Beginning with fiscal year 2021, petitioner’s will no longer file a paper application on April 1st  to be entered in the H-1B lottery. Instead petitioner’s must complete the electronic registration process and wait to be notified of their selection. Only petitioner’s who have been selected will be allowed to submit an H-1B petition beginning with fiscal year 2021.

According to USCIS, “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. The agency completed a successful pilot testing phase, which included sessions with industry representatives, and implementation of the registration system will further the goal of modernizing USCIS from a paper-based to an online-filing agency.”

What will happen if USCIS does not receive enough registrations to meet the cap?

Although unlikely, if USCIS does not receive enough electronic registrations to meet the H-1B Cap, USCIS has stated that  it may “continue accepting registrations, or open an additional registration period,” as necessary, “if it does not receive enough registrations and subsequent petitions projected to reach the numerical allocations.”

For more information about the new registration requirement please click here.