The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the suspension of the requirement to use the online H-1B cap registration system until the FY 2021 filing period, as the system is still being developed and tested. Once the system is completed, employers would file H-1B cap petitions only for registrations selected in the lottery. If a registration is selected, the employer would then have at least 90 days to file its H-1B cap petition. DHS is expected to provide further details on the operation of the system and key filing periods early next year.

DHS also announced that it will switch the order of the regular and advanced-degree H-1B cap selection lotteries for the FY 2020 filing season, which begins on April 1, 2019. All U.S. advanced-degree holders will be included in the general lottery, which will be conducted first. Then, if necessary, a second lottery will select and exempt 20,000 advanced-degree holders from U.S. universities from the annual statutory limit. USCIS projects that this change will result in an increase of up to 16 percent more cases selected for H-1B beneficiaries with U.S. master's degrees or above.

U.S. Department of State Limits H and L Interview Locations in China

The U.S. Department of State announced that starting March 1, 2019, interviews for H and L visas will only be conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing or at U.S. Consulates in Guangzhou or Shanghai. U.S. Consulates will no longer be conducting H or L interviews in Chengdu and Shenyang. The change is reportedly due to the volume and complexity of H and L cases and the need to distribute resources more efficiently.

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