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In Nov. 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed changes to the H-1b program. The proposed changes were published in Jan. 2019 and finalized in April 2019. Among the new changes was the introduction of an electronic registration system. Although the electronic registration system was not implemented for the FY 2020 H-1b cap season, it is scheduled to be implemented for the FY 2021 H-1b cap season which occurs next year. With implementation comes a fee. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes a $10 electronic registration fee to be submitted per registration and to be paid by employers. This proposed rule was published in the Federal Register where the DHS will accept publish comments from September 4 all the way through October 4.
What does the electronic registration system entail? With the publication of the final rule which amended regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions, a new electronic registration system was put in place. According to the DHS, petitioners/employers who wish to file H-1b cap-subject petitions have to register electronically with the USCIS during a predetermined registration period which will take place before the actual H-1b filing period. (Since this registration actually takes place before the actual filing, it is a pre-registration process.) Information that employers must provide during this electronic registration process consist of the name of the H-1b beneficiary for whom the petition is being filed, the employer/petitioner who files the H-1b cap-subject petition, the beneficiary’s qualifications, and the attorney of record. According to the DHS, this registration will simplify the entire filing process and help cut down costs.
In addition to the new H-1b registration process, other changes made to the regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions are the reversal of the order in which H-1b petitions are selected under both the regular cap and the U.S. advanced degree exemption, and a rule that allows for the temporary suspension of the electronic registration in case technical challenges arise.
Under the final rule published on Jan. 31 and finalized on April 1, the USCIS has changed the order in which they select petitions for the H-1b program. Before the FY 2020 cap season, the USCIS first randomly selected petitions under the U.S. advanced degree exception first. Here 20,000 petitions were selected. The petitions for persons with U.S. advanced degrees not selected are then added to the regular H-1b cap selection process whereby an additional 65,000 petitions were then randomly selected.
With the reversal in the selection process, the USCIS selects from the regular cap first (this includes petitions for persons who hold advanced degrees attained from a recognized U.S. educational institution and persons who hold regular degrees). Here 65,000 petitions are selected. After this selection process, the selection of petitions towards the advanced degree takes place where 20,000 petitions are selected.
According to the DHS, this is to increase the number of petitions for persons holding U.S. advanced degrees. Although the electronic registration system wasn’t implemented for the FY 2020 cap season, this reverse selection process was. And according to the USCIS, preliminary data has revealed that there was an 11% increase in the numerical allocations given to petitions for U.S. advanced degree holders.
For more information on the H-1b cab-subject visa, refer to the blog post- Understanding the H1B .
The doors of the Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy are always opened to anyone in need of H-1b related legal assistance.