Now is the time to start preparing H-1B petitions for consideration in the 2020 H-1B lottery. The USCIS has changed its H-1B lottery system and will now run an electronic lottery prior to the submission of physical H-1B Petitions.
As background, the demand for new H-1Bs always exceeds the limited supply. Since 2014, the quota has been filled within the first week and an H-1B lottery established. In recent years, more than 200,000 petitions were received for the 85,000 H-1B visas available.
Here are a few key takeaways regarding the new USCIS H-1B Cap protocol:
- The initial H-1B petition registration period will begin on March 1, 2020, and will tentatively close on 20 March 2020. The USCIS may close the registration period prior to 20 March 2020.
- Employers (or authorized representatives) must register using an online account. Information regarding how to register will be provided by USCIS on its website.
- Employers may start setting up their registration accounts in advance of the registration period opening (though this feature is not yet available).
- A separate registration request must be made for each individual for whom H-1B status is sought.
- USCIS will send notices to all registrants with selected registrations who are eligible to file an H-1B Cap Petition and intends to do so by 31 March 2020.
- If a beneficiary is selected under the lottery, the employer will receive a 90-day window to file the H-1B Cap Petition.
While the USCIS must still provide additional information regarding the new system, one thing is clear: all potential H-1B cap beneficiaries should be identified as early as possible to ensure participation in the electronic preregistration lottery. Now is the time to:
- Identify the potential H-1B beneficiaries within your company.
- Prepare job descriptions.
- Organize wage and compensation information.
- Collect academic documents and, where appropriate, secure translations and evaluations of education/experience.