USCIS has announced that the online registration for new H-1B petition filings for FY2022 will open between March 9, 2021 at 12pm EST until 12 pm EST on March 25, 2021. Beginning March 25, USCIS will randomly select registrations and send selection notifications electronically. The agency has also stated that it intends to notify all selected registrations by March 31, 2021. Employers with selected registrations may then proceed with filing a complete H-1B petition with USCIS along with filing fees during a specific period of time.
USCIS also announced that it will delay implementation of the final rule entitled “Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions” until December 31, 2021. This final rule seeks to amend the cap selection process to prioritize employer registrations that offer the highest wages to their prospective H-1B workers. It was originally scheduled to go into effect on March 9, 2021.
USCIS made the decision to delay implementation in order to give the agency more time to develop, test, and implement the modifications to the registration system and selection process. The delay will also provide more time for USCIS to train staff and perform public outreach as well as give stakeholders time to adjust to the new rule. This is welcome news for employers who faced challenges and complexities in paying higher wages for new H-1B employees, including workers that have recently graduated from college or university.
As background, the H-1B visa program allows U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign nationals to work in a specialty occupation, which generally speaking is a profession for which a Bachelor’s or higher degree in a specific field is required (e.g., accountant or engineer). New H-1B visa numbers are capped by statute to 65,000 every fiscal year. Another 20,000 H-1B visas are reserved each fiscal year for H-1B employees who possess at least a U.S. Master’s degree. Based on past experience, USCIS generally receives H-1B petitions that exceed these numbers, which then requires the agency to conduct a lottery to select the petitions it will adjudicate for these limited visas.
Employers who were considering H-1B cap registrations for FY2022 but were concerned about the wage ranking system will benefit from the delayed implementation. If your company is interested in sponsoring a foreign national for initial H-1B status for FY2022, please contact one of our attorneys at SGG today.