On December 6, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will implement a registration process for the upcoming H-1B lottery. This announcement confirms USCIS’s long-standing goal of implementing the new registration system for the FY2021 cap season, for filing in March 2020 with an effective date of October 1, 2020.
The announcement states that USCIS has completed a successful pilot testing phase for the online H-1B registration system. However, a number of critical details remain unknown at this time. USCIS advises:
- The timetable for submission of registrations has not yet been announced;
- Registration will be open between March 1 and March 20; it is unclear if the site will be available prior to those dates for employer registration; and
- USCIS will conduct “public engagements and other outreach activities” to demonstrate the new registration system.
Employers should prepare now by identifying all employees and candidates who will be sponsored for the FY2021 H-1B cap. In addition, USCIS still reserves the right to suspend registration if there are technical difficulties with the new H-1B registration program. Therefore, employers need to plan for this contingency and be prepared to file complete H-1B petitions during the first five business days in April 2020 if USCIS decides to suspend or not move forward with the new registration system, at the agency’s own discretion.
For additional details on the cap registration program, please view our prior alerts: