FY 2021 H-1B Cap Filing Period Opens
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that H-1B cap-subject petitions for fiscal year (FY) 2021 may now be filed with USCIS if based on a valid selected registration.
What This Means for Employers
- Employers may now file H-1B cap petitions for beneficiaries who were selected in the random selection process (“lottery”) that was completed March 27, 2020.
- Employers or their representatives may access their online USCIS H-1B cap registration accounts to see whether a beneficiary was selected in the lottery. If the registration status indicates “selected,” the employer may file a FY 2021 H-1B cap petition for that beneficiary.
- The H-1B cap petition must be properly filed for the selected beneficiary within the period indicated on the registration selection.
- The registration selection notice specifies a 90-day filing period (April 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020) and designates the USCIS Service Center for submission of the petition. The registration selection notice must be printed and filed with the H-1B cap petition for the selected beneficiary.
- Online filing is not available for submission of H-1B petitions. Petitioners must submit a hard copy/paper petition to USCIS that includes a printed copy of the applicable registration selection notice.
- Due to COVID-19, USCIS will temporarily accept all benefit forms, including Form 1-129 for H-1B cap petitions, with reproduced original signatures. (Employers must still retain the original documents containing the “wet” signature to provide to USCIS if requested at a later date.)
- Effective March 20, 2020, USCIS has temporarily suspended premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice. This means that all H-1B cap petitions must be submitted under “regular” processing. If premium processing is later reinstated, employers may have the option of interfiling a premium processing request (with the applicable $1440 filing fee) to obtain a decision in 15 days.
This was the first year that USCIS used an electronic registration system for the H-1B cap lottery instead of requiring employers to submit fully prepared H-1B cap petitions for selection in the lottery. The new system was generally viewed as a great improvement for employers and USCIS alike, and an overall success. USCIS received approximately 275,000 unique registrations during the registration period from March 1 to March 20, 2020.
USCIS received approximately 275,000 unique registrations during the registration period from March 1 to March 20, 2020, an increase of more than one third over last year, when 201,011 petitions were entered into the lottery. Approximately 46% of all registrations were for prospective beneficiaries with U.S. advanced degrees.
USCIS cautions that employers must still establish that selected beneficiaries are eligible for H-1B classification, and that the H-1B cap petition is approvable at the time the petition is filed and through adjudication, based on existing statutory and regulatory requirements. Selection in the lottery merely conveys eligibility to file an H-1B cap petition; the employer must still submit sufficient evidence to establish eligibility for the benefit sought. More information is available at the USCIS H-1B Electronic Registration Process page.
Gibney will work with employers to prepare and file H-1B petitions for selected beneficiaries during the 90-day filing window. For additional information, please contact your designated Gibney team or email firstname.lastname@example.org.