On Friday, February 5, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that it will implement last year’s new pre-registration process for the upcoming H-1B lottery. Employers who want to sponsor an employee or candidate for an H-1B petition subject to the annual cap must first register electronically and pay a $10 fee. This registration process first implemented in March 2020 replaces the process in previous years, in which employers had to prepare an entire petition with all fees attached in order to be entered into the lottery.
The H-1B program was created in 1990 and today is one of the most popular ways for U.S. employers to hire highly-skilled foreign-born workers. Companies may submit an application to USCIS for a candidate to assume a position that requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Though many employers rely on the H-1B, it has become renowned for its uncertainty. There are 85,000 new H-1B spots available each year, but in recent years USCIS has received 200,000 — 300,000 H-1B petitions during the first week of the application period. The new pre-registration process requires employers to spend fewer resources to enter a candidate into the lottery.
USCIS posted its final rule creating this new H-1B registration process in 2019, and implemented it for the first time in March 2020. Last week, USCIS announced the registration dates listed above for FY2021. USCIS also announced on February 4 that it would delay its new rule, which prioritizes cap petitions with higher salaries. That rule is delayed until December 31, 2021 and will not affect this year’s cap registration or selection processes.
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