Starting with a registration period commencing March 1, 2020, employers must pre-register any cap-subject H-1B petitions they intend to file for FY 2021 (starting on October 1, 2020). USCIS announced earlier this month that all employers filing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must use the electronic pre-registration process which will be open from March 1 through March 20, 2020. The prospective petitioner (or their authorized representative) must pay a $10 registration fee and submit the names of foreign workers who will be beneficiaries of H-1B cap-subject petitions.
If a sufficient number of registrations are received, USCIS will then randomly select a sufficient number of registrations as needed to reach the H-1B regular and master’s degree caps. This will be done no later than March 31, 2020, according to USCIS. Thereafter, a cap-subject H-1B petition may be filed only if it has been pre-selected by USCIS.
Generally, H-1B season starts the first week of April of each year, for the following fiscal year starting on October 1. USCIS accepts the number of petitions it deems necessary and sufficient to meet the 65,000 regular cap and 20,000 master’s degree cap. For example, in 2019 both the regular and master’s degree caps were reached during the first week of the April filing period, when more than 200,000 petitions were received by USCIS. In the past, the random selection process was done by USCIS after H-1B petitions were filed by employers. The new rule is meant to help make the process more efficient, and save employers time and resources that go into preparation of an H-1B petition for a skilled foreign worker. With the mandatory online registration, only pre-selected employers will have to prepare and file the full H-1B petition.
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