14 February 2020

USCIS Announces Change in H-1B Visa Lottery

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced implementation of a new electronic registration process for the upcoming H-1B visa lottery. Under the new H-1B registration system, employers seeking to file cap-subject H-1B petitions will be required to electronically register each foreign national applicant and pay a registration fee of $10 per applicant.

The USCIS has indicated that the electronic registration will be open from March 1, 2020 through March 20, 2020. During that time, employers will be required to complete basic information about the company and each foreign national beneficiary. It is expected that the number of cap-subject H-1B visas requested by employers for the upcoming fiscal year will again exceed the available quota. High demand for the H-1B visa class has existed for several years as this visa class is used for many professional level jobs including those in the information technology, engineering, finance, and medical fields. When demand exceeds the available annual cap or quota the USCIS runs a random lottery selection. Employers whose H-1B registrations are selected will then be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions in early April.

This new electronic registration is a major change from the past cap-subject H-1B petition selection process. Considering USCIS has provided few details on the new process and the inherent risk with any new technology implementation, we recommend employers immediately determine what current employees and job candidates may need a H-1B visa for continued employment. The initial data and information gathering for the registration should begin now. Questions about the USCIS electronic employer registration, or questions on whether a candidate or employee will require an H-1B visa petition, may be directed to any member of the Miller Johnson Immigration Law Practice Group.