DHS and USCIS has been working on streamlining the process of H1B Visa lottery system for quite sometime and as part of that they published in December H1B Pre-registration rule for NPRM(Notice for Proposed Rulemaking) with public to give comments until Jan 3rd. DHS and USCIS has been swift on this one to review the comments and publish the final rule. It is a long 214 page document with comments, responses, and all info. In this article we will summarized the entire rule, final process decided by USCIS, start dates and many FAQs on the new H1B registration rule.
H1B Registration Requirement Final Rule – Key Points from Final Regulation :
DHS Received 817 comments during the 30 days comment period, below we have the key points and information summarized.
- H1B Visa 2020 Season : USCIS is suspending H1B Registration Rule for H1B FY 2020 cap season to design, implement and complete user testing of system and make sure the system is ready. USCIS will formally announce this suspension for FY 2020 on their website.
- H1B 2020 Season Lottery Order Changed : Though H1B registration rule is suspended, USCIS will take the order of selection part of the new rule and change the lottery selection order for FY 2020 season. As per the new order, first 65,000 petitions are selected for regular cap quota from the entire pool of applications, then 20,000 master’s petitions are selected to meet the Advanced/ US master’s degree quota cap. USCIS believes that this change in order will increase the number of US Master’s degree applicants to be selected.
- Rule Effective Date : The H1B Registration Rule is effective from April 1st, 2019 ( 60 days from publication date – Jan 31st, 2019)
- Proposed Dates for New System : USCIS anticipates that the new Registration System will be implemented starting with H1B FY 2021 cap season.
- Fee for H1B Registration System : There is no fee charged by USCIS for the H1B registrations in the new system as of now. However, DHS may consider charging a fee in the future to recover cost of building and maintain. If such thing happens, it will be published as NPRM in federal register.
- Cost Savings with H1B Registration System : The cost savings with the new registration rule is about $43.4 million to $63.7 million annually for petitioners and the US Govt.
- US Masters Students Advantages with H1B Registration System: USCIS says that individuals with US Masters degrees earn 19.6 percent more than individuals with bachelor’s degree. So, the reversal of lottery selection will ensure higher paid and most skilled ones are working in US on H1Bs. The change in lottery order will result in 16% ( about 5,340 more) more US Masters students to be selected for H1B petition filings. DHS believes that the new rule is merit based as the new lottery order will increased US masters students getting H1Bs.
Final H1B Registration Rule – What is it ? How does it work ?
- Order of H1B Lottery : USCIS is changing the order in which the current H1B petitions are selected in lottery. In the new H1B registration rule, to select the registrants, first lottery is conducted to select the overall regular cap quota to fill 65,000 petitions and then lottery is run to select the US masters quota cap for 20,000 petitions.
H1B Registration Period Start Date, Duration, Actual Filing Period :
- USCIS will announce the H1B registration period at least 30 calendar days before the start of the registration for employers to be prepared.
- The registration period will be given for at least 14 calendar days. USCIS will announce on their website the final registration date for that fiscal year. They may keep it open for longer as needed based on their projections of registrations.
- USCIS may re-open registration in certain cases, when they do not get required registrations as projected by them.
- Employers will get 90 days for filing the H1B petition with USCIS after the selected registrants are informed to them. ( this was 60 days in the draft)
- USCIS will time the 90 days duration to file H1B petitions in such a way that employers can file for H1B petitions on April 1st, to have the start date of October 1st.
- USCIS will not implement the staggered (separate dates ) petition filing system as it was in the proposed rule. It will be one date for everyone to file H1B petitions with USCIS.
What Information Needs to be filled in Registration :
- For each registration, in addition to basic information, H1B applicant info : full name, date of birth, country of citizenship, birth date, gender, and Passport Number need to be submitted as part of the registration. This information is to detect duplicate filings.
- USCIS will not require petitioners to enter their corporate information for every beneficiary as it is redundant task. USCIS is seeking OMB approval for the new H1B registration tool information collected as proposed today. If they believe more info need to be collected, it will be informed.
- No need to submit a certified LCA in the H1B registration system. It needs to be submitted with the H1B petition during filing for selected registrants. No need to submit wage offered, and other details related to conditions of employment during registration.
- US Masters Degree Transcripts : H1B US Masters quota classification eligibility need not be proved during registration period by providing US degree transcripts. You can indicate that you qualify for Masters quota in the registration system for lottery purposes. The proof details of US Degree can be submitted during the actual H1B petition filing.
- Time to Fill in New Registration System : DHS estimates that the each unique account creation for petitioner or employer will take about 0.17 hours and each electronic registration for H1B application will take 0.5 hours to complete.
Preventing Fraud in H1B Registration System :
- Employers need to attest that they intend to file H1B for the beneficiary they are entering in the registration system. This is to ensure the registration is for a bona fide job offer. But, there is no mandatory requirement for employers to file H1B Petition for selected registrants in the lottery conducted for H1B registrations. If USCIS believes there are frivolous registration and the system is abused, they will be subject to investigation and will be accountable for fraud.
- One employer can only submit one registration for one H1B applicant or beneficiary. If more than one registration is filed for a beneficiary, then all of those registrations filed for those beneficiary will be considered invalid.
- Employers cannot substitute names that were in the original selected registrant during the filing. If so, such petitions will be denied or rejected.
- Employers need to attest they are filing bona fide registrations and not frivolous ones, if USC IS determines fraud is done, they will be referred to federal law enforcement agencies.
- Multiple Genuine Offers from Different Employers : USCIS does not prohibit a H1B applicant or beneficiary to have multiple employers ( not related to each other) submit registrations for them, if they have genuine job offers from such different employers.
H1B Registration System Features, Plans :
- Employers/ petitioners will be able to login to the registration system and see registrations, selection notices and print the same.
- USCIS will send electronic notifications for the selected registrations that can go for H1B filings. USCIS will not separately notify with physical copies.
- USCIS will engage with stakeholders and give training on the new system and get feedback for the new system.
- Reserve Registrations : USCIS will hold unselected registrations in reserve and conduct additional lottery selection as needed, if necessary.
H1B Registration Requirement Rule Process :
- Step 1 : Employers interested in sponsoring H1B for individuals they intend to hire, will need to first electronically register the individuals with USCIS during the specified registration period as given by USCIS.
- Step 2 : Employers will get at least 14 days to electronically register the individuals with their company information. They can edit, delete and modify the candidate details until the registration period closes.
- Step 3 : USCIS will conduct computer generated random selection aka Lottery to select regular quota filing registrants, then the masters quota are separated and lottery is run to select the US masters quota filing registrants.
- Step 4 : USCIS Notifies electronically the selected registrants’ employer/sponsors to file H1B petitions within 90 days. They will time it to fall on April 1st. The unselected registrations are kept on reserve to do another selected as needed.
- Step 5 : Employers need to file H1B petition using the standard process like before using LCA, Fees and all the information supporting the H1B job offer for the selected registrant.
- Step 6 : USCIS will adjudicate the petition as per their standard process and inform employers regarding their petition.
What do you think of the new final H1B Registration Rule ?
Reference : Official Document H1B Registration Rule