On December 3, the USCIS proposed a rule which would eliminate the current requirement that employers file cap-subject H-1B petitions during the first week of April.

New Online Registration System

Instead, should the regulation become effective in 2019, employers will be given a 15-day period at least 2 weeks prior to April 1 to submit free online registration forms (one form for each beneficiary) which include the following information:
  1. The employer’s name, ID number and mailing address;
  2. The employer’s authorized representative’s name, job title and contact information;
  3. The beneficiary’s full name, date of birth, country of birth, country of citizenship, gender and passport number;
  4. Whether the beneficiary has obtained a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education;
  5. The employer’s attorney or accredited representative, if applicable; and
  6. Any additional basic information requested by the USCIS.

The new online registration system will not require employers to pay a filing fee, file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) or complete an H-1B petition prior to the H-1B lotteries.

New Lottery SystemH-1B-visa.jpg

In contrast to prior years, the lottery for 65,000 H-1Bs will occur prior to the lottery for 20,000 H-1Bs for beneficiaries with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.

USCIS estimates that doing so will increase the number of beneficiaries with advanced degrees in the U.S. who are chosen in the lotteries by about 5,430 or 16%.

After the Lotteries

USCIS will notify employers of which H-1B petitions are chosen in the lotteries.

It is expected that employers will be given approximately 2 months to get LCAs approved and submit H-1B petitions with proper filing fees.

USCIS reserves the authority to have multiple filing periods so not all the H-1B petitions are submitted at the same time. USCIS could also reopen the registration period if less than 85,000 H-1B petitions are approved.

Will the New Rule Go into Effect in 2019?

USCIS has limited the comment period on the proposed regulation to 30 days which signals that the agency wishes to implement the new online registration system in 2019. However, if this is not possible, USCIS will have to wait until 2020 to do so.

Therefore, we recommend that employers start preparation of LCAs and cap-subject H-1B petitions not later than February 2019.