U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently provided additional guidance for the H-1B electronic registration process for the fiscal year 2021 H-1B cap, which begins at noon Eastern standard time on March 1, 2020, and runs through noon Eastern daylight time on March 20, 2020.

Under the new process, sponsoring companies (registrants) and their legal representatives each must complete registration steps through their own USCIS online account. Beginning on Feb. 24, 2020, registrants must create a new account specifically designed for the H-1B cap by visiting https://myaccount.uscis.gov/users/sign_up and selecting the “I am an H-1B registrant” option. To ensure a smooth registration process, sponsoring companies are strongly encouraged to set up their registrant accounts between Feb.  24 and Feb. 28.

While USCIS has not stated when the lottery will take place, we believe the initial selection process will be completed by March 31, 2020. USCIS will then notify registrants as to which foreign nationals have been selected. This notification will also provide a 90-day period in which H-1B petitions for the selected individual must be prepared and filed. 

Following the lottery, the USCIS account will display one of the following statuses for each submitted registration:

  • Selected. The registrant is invited to prepare and file its petition with USCIS within 90 days.

  • Submitted. This refers to the fact that the lottery entry (not the petition) was submitted and received. (The system may continue to show “submitted” even after the initial selection process.) In the event the 85,000 H-1B slots aren’t exhausted (due to petitioners not pursuing H-1Bs filing after selection or H-1B petition denials), USCIS may make additional selections.

  • Not selected. The system won’t show this until the end of the fiscal year and after the lottery process has concluded.

  • Denied. This occurs only when the same registrant has submitted more than one registration for the same foreign national individual, which is prohibited.

USCIS also clarified eligibility for the U.S. master’s cap. To be eligible for the master’s cap, an individual must earn a U.S. master’s (or more advanced) degree no later than the last (90th) day of the period allotted for the filing of the H-1B petition following lottery sections.

USCIS has not indicated whether it will suspend premium processing for H-1B cap case filing, as it has done in past years.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.