H-1B Cap 2020: April 1st is Too Late!

A new H-1B Cap registration process is coming soon to a computer near you!

USCIS has long pondered the possibility of having H-1B cap employers register their H-1B beneficiaries online to streamline the H-1B cap process. That dream has finally come to fruition, and it will be rolled out this spring! This is an exciting change that brings lots of unknowns to would-be H-1B employers, employees, immigration lawyers, and probably even to USCIS. But fear not, the Sumner Immigration Law team is here to help you navigate the new system with confidence!

What was the old system?

Until this year, we have filed the complete H-1B cap petition with USCIS the first five business days of April. All petitions received the first five business days were entered into an H-1B lottery. USCIS would randomly select 65,000 petitions, plus an additional 20,000 petitions for U.S. master’s degree holders (per the statutory annual numerical limitations for new H-1B petitions). If the case was selected in the lottery, USCIS would issue a receipt notice, and the case was adjudicated. If the case was not selected in the lottery, USCIS would return the rejected case to the attorney of record. The disadvantage of this system is that a prospective H-1B employer and employee would have to spend considerable time, energy, and money having an attorney prepare an H-1B petition that may end up being rejected in the H-1B lottery.

With the new online registration system, the employer (or an attorney on his/her behalf) must enter basic information into the system and pay a registration fee of $10 (USCIS registration fee). If the registration is selected in the H-1B cap lottery, the employer will have 90 days to submit the complete H-1B petition. If the case is not selected in the lottery, no filing is required of course.

While we applaud efforts to streamline the system, we anticipate that USCIS will receive many more entrants than they have previously, making it statistically less likely that any given registrant will be selected in the lottery. However, this is the new system for now, so we’re focused now on making sure to make the most of it.

USCIS will not consider an H-1B cap-subject petition to be properly filed unless it is based on a valid registration selection for the applicable fiscal year.

When to Register

The initial registration period will start on March 1, 2020 and USCIS intends to close the initial registration period on March 20, 2020.

If USCIS has determined that an insufficient number of registrations have been received, the registration period may continue. USCIS will determine the final registration date once it has received the number of registrations needed to reach the numerical allocations. USCIS will announce the actual end date on their website.

How to Register

Petitioners must register using an online account. USCIS will be providing instructions on its website. Employers and authorized users may start setting up their registration accounts in advance of the registration period opening.

A petitioner or its authorized representative must electronically submit a separate registration request naming an individual it seeks to petition for a cap-subject H-1B. Petitioners will be able to register multiple individuals in a single session.

The electronic system will allow for a filer to prepare, edit and store the record in their account prior to final payment and submission.

Registration Selection

USCIS will send notices electronically to all registrants with selected registrations that they are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition on behalf of the individual named in the notice within the filing period indicated on the notice. The account holder who submitted the selected registration will receive notification via email or text message stating that an action has been added to their account, and they will have to log in to see the full notice.

USCIS intends to notify registrants with selected registrations from the initial registration period no later than March 31, 2020.

What is my next step if I want to file an H-1B cap petition for FY 2021?

  1. If you are not currently a client of Sumner Immigration Law and you would like to file an H-1B cap petition in 2020, please contact us today (info@sumnerimmigration.com) to set a time for a complimentary information call with one of our attorneys.
  2. Plan to register for the H-1B cap, or have your attorney register, between March 1 -20. Be sure to have an attorney analyze your case ahead of time to make sure you are eligible for an H-1B petition and to help identify any potential issues.
  3. Be ready to file your H-1B petition if you are selected in the lottery within 90 days of notification of selection.

The H-1B cap process is new for everyone, and is a complex system fraught with pitfalls. We are here to help you navigate the maze and aim to provide our clients with peace of mind and confidence. Contact Sumner Immigration Law to set a consultation to create your strategy today! We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the U.S. and around the world. You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email to info@sumnerimmigration.com.