USCIS Announces New H-1B Registration Process Starting March 1, 2020

On December 6, 2019, USCIS announced that it is implementing an electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to submit H-1B cap-subject petitions. Employers seeking to file FY2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay an associated $10 fee for each electronic registration they submit to USCIS. The registration process now commences a month earlier, on March 1. This a a change from prior years in which applicants applied starting April 1, and often waited up to four months to find out if their application was selected in the lottery, causing great stress and costs to applicants and their employers in the meantime.

Per USCIS, under this new process, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration process that will require only basic information about their company and each requested worker. USCIS announced that the initial registration period will start on March 1, 2020. Employers and their representatives will be able to set up required registration accounts prior to March 1. USCIS intends to close the initial registration period on March 20, 2020, and will announce the actual end date of the initial registration period on its website. USCIS will then run a random selection process on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. If an applicant is selected, he or she will then prepare an H-1B application, including an I-129 form and supporting evidence, to file as soon as possible after selection.

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USCIS Temporarily Suspends Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions

enter-usa-h1b-visaAs of April 2, 2018, USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap.  This cap was reached in just four days, by April 6, 2018.
USCIS has temporarily suspended premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. This suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. During this time, USCIS will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap.
USCIS will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates.

During this temporary suspension, USCIS will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, both forms will be rejected.

Once USCIS resumes premium processing, petitioners may file a Form I-907 for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions that remain pending.

Requesting Expedited Processing

While premium processing is suspended, a petitioner may submit a request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition if it meets the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and USCIS encourages petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request. USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and will grant requests at the discretion of its office leadership.

The Reason for Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions

This temporary suspension will help USCIS reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, USCIS will:

  • Process long-pending petitions, which it has currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
  • Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark.

Look for USCIS’ updates on the H-1B FY 2019 Cap Season webpage.

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