U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it would begin accepting electronic registrations for H-1B candidates subject to the annual quota for fiscal year (FY) 2021 on March 1, 2020. The registration period will run through at least March 20, 2020. USCIS intends to notify selected registrants no later than March 31, 2020.

The Registration Lottery

In January 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the implementation of an electronic registration system required for all H-1B cap-subject candidates for the regular and advanced degree lotteries. Employers are required to register each H-1B candidate for selection in the H-1B lottery. Only those candidates selected may submit a complete H-1B application for adjudication by USCIS.

The Rules of the Lottery—As We Know Them

The following is a summary of what we know about the registration lottery so far:

  • Employers may submit only one registration per candidate. If USCIS detects multiple registrations for the same candidate, it will discard all registrations for that candidate.
  • In order to register, employers must provide basic information about the company and the candidate.
  • Employers must pay a $10 registration fee per registered candidate.
  • USCIS will accept electronic registrations from March 1 through March 20, 2020. If USCIS determines there is a need to collect more registrations beyond March 20, 2020, it will reopen the registration period.
  • An employer must create an online registration account in order to register its FY 2021 H-1B candidates. USCIS has not yet provided information as to how or when employers may create those accounts. The agency has said that employers will be able to set up accounts during the registration period and immediately use those accounts to register.
  • The registration system will allow employers to prepare, edit, and store registration information in their accounts prior to final payment and submission.
  • USCIS intends to notify employers of any selected registrants by March 31, 2020. USCIS will send initial notifications to employers by text or email stating that an “action” has been added to their accounts. Employers must log into their accounts to access the full notice.
  • The filing window for selected registrants will be open for at least 90 days.

Moving Forward

Employers and immigration attorneys are awaiting additional information about how to create registration accounts and when the full H-1B petitions for selected registrants will be due. In the meantime, employers may want to begin identifying whether they have any FY 2021 H-1B candidates and, if they do, preparing to register those candidates for the lottery on March 1, 2020.

For more information about the new electronic registration system, and tips about how to prepare for the FY 2021 cap season, register for Ogletree Deakins webinar on January 21, 2020, H-1B Visas: Prepare Now for the New Electronic Registration System.