USCIS announces new H-1B electronic registration process for 2021 cap season

Cost saving initial registration from March 1 to March 20.

The new electronic registration process intended to smoothen the long H-1B visa application process for high-skilled foreign workers will finally be implemented in the next application season.

Under the new system, announced by USCIS on Friday employers in US seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap will have to now complete an initial registration requiring only basic information about their company and each requested worker.

This will be different from the existing process where a detailed and labor-intensive initial H-1B application for each foreign worker is filed by the intended employer.

USCIS will keep initial registration open from March 1 thru March 20, 2020. The H-1B random selection process, if needed, will then be run on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

If there are enough registrations in the H-1B lottery, then there will be a lottery. It may be noted that only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

The new system is a marked deviation from the existing procedure where employers mail in lengthy, detailed applications during a five-day window starting April 1 each year at a cost of thousands of dollars in preparation and filing fees.

Under the newly introduced process employers will pay $10 for each registration, and only pay application fees if their registration is selected in the lottery and they become eligible to apply.

“By streamlining the H-1B cap selection process with a new electronic registration system, USCIS is creating cost savings and efficiencies for petitioners and the agency, as only those selected will now be required to submit a full petition,” said USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans.

USCIS announced on Friday afternoon that it had completed a successful pilot testing phase of the new electronic process.

Earlier in October, a group of lawyers along with tech giants including Google and Facebook had expressed apprehension about the new process and warned about possible technical glitches.

USCIS will post step-by-step instructions informing registrants how to complete the registration process on its website along with key dates and timelines as the initial registration period nears.

USCIS will also conduct public engagements and other outreach activities to ensure registrants and interested parties are familiar with the new registration system.

The agency may determine it is necessary to continue accepting registrations, or open an additional registration period, if it does not receive enough registrations and subsequent petitions projected to reach the numerical allocations.


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