H1B Visa 2021 Season - Lottery - Start Date -Fee -FAQs info

H1B Visa 2021 – Registration, Lottery, Deadlines, Planning, Fee, FAQs

In H1B Visa by KumarUpdated : 30 Comments

If you have been unlucky in the H1B visa 2020 season or planning to apply for H1B visa in the next fiscal year, it is important for you to be prepared ahead of time. As we may very likely have new registration system in place for the next fiscal year, the deadlines will vary and you need to prepared ahead of time.  You may need to start earlier than previous years…In this article, we will look at many of the common FAQs related to H1B Fiscal Year(FY) 2021 season. We will continue to update this page.

If this is your first time filing H1B, please read H1B Visa Basics – FAQs like Requirements, Quota, LCA, etc.

New H1B Registration System

USCIS confirmed on December 6th, that they will have New H1B Registration System for FY 2021 Season. They confirmed that the pilot testing is complete and they are launching it for upcoming season. The planned dates are for March 1st through March 20th, 2020. Check complete details at H1B Registration Dates by USCIS

H1B Registration System, Lottery Order

USCIS, with the new H1B registration system will introduce two fundamental changes: one is related to the H1B petition filing process and second is to the order of H1B Lottery in the process.

As per the new filing process, first USCIS would have a H1B registration period for employers to submit registrations using an online system with very minimum information related to their H1B application related to a candidate and their company. There is a $10 fee per H1B registration submitted by the employer. After the registrations are closed, USCIS will run lottery on these registrations in a new order.  They will first select applicants to fill the regular quota cap and then the unselected master’s petitions are selected again to fill the master’s quota cap.  After the lottery is done, employer with selected applicants in lottery should submit the full petition with USCIS.

Below is the high-level process with H1B registration System. For complete details like what details to submit for lottery, how they will select, etc. read H1B Registration Rule – Process, How does it work, FAQs

H1B Visa Registration Process Flow Final Rule

Now that we know the registration system, let’s look at the dates.

H1B 2021 Season Start Dates ?

The dates for FY 2021 season are slightly different from previous years as we have new H1B Registration system for FY 2021 season. We have two dates : One for the registration period and second for the actual filing of the complete H1B package. Let’s look at what the dates now.

H1B Registration Period Dates

USCIS confirmed in their press release on December 6th, 2019 that they will have initial H1B registration Period from March 1st through March 20th, 2020. It is technically for 3 weeks. If there is not enough petitions filed during the registration period, we could have another window to file second time..USCIS will inform, if there is a need for the second window. Looking at history, we do not anticipate second window as there is always more demand than the H1B cap quota.

H1B Actual Petition Filing Dates

Historically, H1B season usually starts on April 1st. If April 1st falls on weekend, then they move it the closest Monday in April first week. The reason for having the start date of April 1st is that USCIS’s fiscal year starts from October 1st and H1B petitions cannot be filed 6 months before their start date, hence the April 1st date.

Technically, April 1st is the earliest date anyone can file, but not the last or final date for FY 2021 petitions.  As per the final H1B registration Rule, employers get 90 days to file their H1B petition after the lottery results are announced. Now, we do not have the final lottery results dates from the registration system published by USCIS yet. USCIS said they would announce results by March 31st, so they would very likely stick with the April 1st date and it will last for 90 days. So, the H1B Petition filing dates for FY 2021 would very likely be from April 1st, 2020 until June 30th, 2020. ( total 90 days from April 1st)

H1B 2021 Quota Cap – Regular vs Masters

If you are new and hear the word H1B cap, don’t be confused. It is just the maximum number of available H1B slots for a category. There are two categories Regular and Masters. You can read more at What is H1B Cap ? Regular vs Masters quota ? There are no changes for H1B regular or masters cap for FY 2021 and they stay the same like previous years.  Below are the quota numbers :

  • H1B Regular Quota : 65,000 visas
  • H1B Master’s Quota : 20,000 visas. ( only US Masters eligible)

One small caveat, of the overall 85,000 visa cap, every year 6,800 visas are set aside for the citizens of Singapore and Chile as part of the Free Trade Agreement with them. There were few bills part of Comprehensive Immigration Reform that are not active in Senate that were proposed from Obama administration days to change the cap count to 110,000 and Masters to 25,000, including potential to make H1B cap extend up to 180,000. But nothing has moved and all are dormant. Nothing new has been proposed by the new Trump Administration regarding changing cap count. To get a glimpse of historical cap count changes, you may check H1B visa cap count history from 1990 to 2017

H1B Visa 2021 Lottery Predictions  

Looking at the extreme demand in the last few years, we can very likely assume that there will be H1B lottery. If you are new to this process, read What is H1B Lottery ? Process ? We had lottery for the past 7 consecutive years. Check History of H1B Visa Cap Reach Dates, Lottery.  Now, the question is how many petitions will be filed. Last year, with so much of upfront investment from employers, there were about 200K petitions filed. Now, with the low bar of just $10 per registration, there is not much burden for employers. They may be willing to file more registrations.  It could be USCIS trap as well to weed out the duplicate petitions….in any case, there would very likely be more H1B registrations than in the past…We will write an article closer to the registration period with some predictions…stay tuned. For now, read previous year H1B 2020 Lottery Predictions.

 H1B Visa 2021 Lottery Results Dates

In previous years,  USCIS would take a very long time to return the H1B packages that were not selected in H1B Lottery. For FY 2020, it was August 29, 2019, when they were returned. So, some were waiting from April 1st through August 29th, 2019 for about 150 days to know their final lottery results with hope. This year, with H1B registration system, it will be different as USCIS will announce lottery results soon as the whole process is electronic as H1B Registrations are filed electronically. USCIS mentioned that the Lottery results for H1B registrations would be out no later than March 31st. So, technically it could be even before March 31st, but the worst case scenario is March 31st… They mentioned the March 31st date in the email sent, but it is not on the press note on website.

What is H1B Visa 2021 Filing Fee ?

H1B visa petition filing involves two things, one is the fee your employer pays to USCIS, second is the fee that they may need to pay an Immigration attorney, if they do not have in-house immigration team. The overall fee can vary anywhere from $1,720 USD to  $7,910 USD + the Immigration Attorney Fee. As of today, below is the fee. USCIS has recently published Fee Increase Rule in Federal Register. If that goes into effect, the fee may further increase by another $100.  Below is a table of the summary of the H1B visa fee. For complete details on H1B fees, Read Summary of H1B Filing Fee – Who pays for What ? 

H1B Fee – Paid Towards Amount in USD
H1B Registration Fee $10
 Base filing fee $460
AICWA Fee $750  or $1,500
Fraud prevent & detection fee $500
Fee based on Public Law 114-113 ( if applicable) $4000
Premium processing fee (Optional) $1,440 ( from Dec 2, 2019)
Immigration Attorney Fee Varies from $500 to $3000

How to find H1B visa 2021 Sponsors? 

If the current company that you work at does not sponsor H1B, it can be difficult to find a good sponsor. Due to the cost involved and process overhead, many small companies stay away from filing H1B petitions.  With unknown factors like H1B Visa lottery, it gets even more challenging to convince an employer. In any case, depending on your situation, you would be in one of the three scenarios to find a sponsor. 

  • F1 Student in US, OPT holders: The best option for F1 students in school is to find an internship or co-op at an employer who can sponsor H1B visa and ask them to sponsor your H1B. You can continue to work on OPT once you graduate as well. If you are on OPT, make sure you work at an employer, who can sponsor H1B. If not, switch your employer to a H1B sponsor.  Find the list of H1B Sponsoring companies using the tool or  H1B Grader – Sponsors Database
  • International Professionals  : If you are outside of US, your best bet is to find an multi-national company ( MNC) and work through them to sponsor H1B visa. Many try the IT body shop route, but it is subject to lot of fraud and you need to be careful. Many rules related to H1B are enforced more with Trump Administration now and you need to be careful. Read comments on this H1B Companies Reviews article  to get an idea and  beware of such consulting companies to avoid fraud.
  • Important Note : We, as RedBu2US, DO NOT Provide any H1B sponsorship or guide anyone using professional services or fee. If anyone approaches you by saying our name, it is pure FRAUD…beware !

Read step by step guide for finding sponsors : Guide on How to Find H1B Visa Sponsors 2021

Processing Times – Regular vs Premium

In general, you can file your H1B petition in regular or premium processing. If filed in premium, you will get your decision in 15 days and it costs you additional $1440 USD. In the past few years, USCIS suspended the premium processing for general cap subject petitions to manage their load. At this point, we do not have any details, if the premium processing would be available or suspended for FY 2021 season yet. We will update here once any such updates. For more info read : H1B Regular vs Premium Processing Timelines

Latest News Updates for FY 2021 Season

Below is the list of latest news by date related to FY 2021 season. We will update here as we have new updates.

  • Dec 6th, 2019 : USCIS Confirms the launch of H1B Registration System for FY 2021 Season. Check H1B Registration System Dates, Info
  • Nov 7th, 2019: USCIS finalizes to charge $10 Fee for H1B Registrations. Anticipated to be effective for FY 2021 season. Check USCIS press release

We will continue to update this article as we have more updates. You can bookmark this page.

What do you think of the upcoming H1B Season ? Your thoughts, predictions ?

   

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Comments ( 30 )

  1. Anand

    glad that it will bring down the cost of fees per resource for employers and also employer can determine the eligible candidates while filing. Previously less deserved were selected in lottery and now employer can determine the candidates after lottery count is announced.

  2. Venkatesh Pallay

    Does this new process is going to increase the number of H1-b applications for lottery, as it is just 10$ registration fee before lottery. If yes, what could be the expected applications for upcoming year ?

  3. H1BRFE

    Hi Kumar,

    In my project 4 of them received RFE for SO & EE. All of them submitted the same documents for RFE response.(same project,CL & same role).

    One of my team mate petition was denied after RFE submission, so it’s possible to reject all of the petition from my team..??

  4. Friend

    Hi Pratik,

    Congratulations and All the best for your marriage.

    As of today, there is no known pattern to follow during the registration period. That being said, Marriage should be your highest priority as it is once in a lifetime event and lifelong partnership with the blessings of whole family. Wishes to you for a great married life ahead.

    There might be temporary visa inconsistencies and the visa related things will eventually fall in right place.

    Have a good time.

    – Friend

  5. Pratik

    Hello Kumar,

    I am on my STEM-OPT and my company will be filing for my H1B in the coming CAP season.

    I am planning to travel to India from Mid Feb- Mid March (for my wedding). I have reviewed the new h1b process and would like to know if traveling during proposed duration above would be advisable. I am assuming that the registration process wouldn’t cause any hindrance as it doesn’t ask for my i94.

    I am willing to prepone my plans.
    Please let me know what would be the best path to take and what latest date of travel back to US would be favorable given the circumstances.

    Also, my Visa expires in June 2020.

    1. Krishna

      Hi Pratik,

      First, you have a congrats for the planning of marriage.
      Now, your F1 visa is expiring in the month of June 2020, what is your next plans…
      If you are going by Feb-Mar, how long been stayed in India, because you have only 3 months left on your hand with a valid OPT & Visa.
      If your company is applying for H1B next year, the entire system of the filing may be changing., so that wait for until you picked up by H1B, extend your student status then you can make a plans to go India.
      Check with your company attorney for the latest updates….

      1. Pratik Parmar

        Hi Krishan,

        Thanks for the quick response.

        My major concern is waiting for being picked up h1b. If not, I won’t be having the opportunity to travel as my STEM OPT expires in the Jan 2021.

        Giving all the possibilities, I was thinking of traveling to and fro by 1st week of Feb 2020.

        Let me know, if that would work.

        Thank you,
        Pratik

        1. Friend

          Hi Pratik,

          Congratulations and All the best for your marriage.

          As of today, there is no known pattern to follow during the registration period. That being said, Marriage should be your highest priority as it is once in a lifetime event and lifelong partnership with the blessings of whole family. Wishes to you for a great married life ahead.

          There might be temporary visa inconsistencies and the visa related things will eventually fall in right place.

          Have a good time.

          – Friend

    2. administrator
      Kumar

      Pratik,
      Honestly, we do not have the dates out yet, so it can be tricky…I would prepone earlier, if it is possible, just to be safe. Usually, you should not travel, when your application is filed with USCIS as COS. Now, technically, during registration you do not actually file the full application, it is just registration info…so, the key is to have everything sorted out before filing the application. Now, to be safe, I suggest you check with your attorney at your company and then plan your travel.

  6. Susmita

    Hlo kumar my husband had applied for H1b visa in 2019 and they asked for RFE then they received it on September but till now we have got no any result what time could it take

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Susmita,
      There is no set time or SLA…it can take few weeks to few months. You can upgrade to premium, if you need decision faster.

  7. Ishaan

    Hello,

    What is the actual period to apply for H1B? If an employer is willing to sponsor, can I apply now or should I wait for next fiscal? How long is the application period for. Thanks

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Ishann,
      The dates are not out yet. But, you need to start planning now. Read the above article on registration dates, it has all details…you plan accordingly.

  8. Unlucky OPT guy

    Kumar Ji, Thank you for your response on my earlier question.
    This question has already been asked by someone earlier. I just need your opinion.
    1. Regarding online registration, Is there any control on duplicate applications?
    I have read this page: https://redbus2us.com/uscis-h1b-duplicate-filing-multiple-petitions-rule-whats-not-allowed/
    Does the same algo will be used in New online system?
    2. Since lottery results will be out before April. i.e sending h1b package to USCIS.
    Won’t there be a surge in premium processing application for h1b?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      1. Yes, they clearly say duplicate petitions are not allowed, just like before. Yes, there are procedures in place for them to flag them.
      2. It could be possible, but we do not have any details on the upcoming season regarding premium processing…need to wait for USCIS to give some guidance closer to the filing dates.

  9. KD

    Hi Kumar,

    I have a question regarding Changing Status to H4 and Using existing EAD. Appreciate your clarification.

    Have an existing valid H4 EAD valid till 2021. My fresh H1 is approved with COS to H1 few days back. Due to some personal situation i want to change to H4 & get back to EAD again. can i use existing EAD once COS to H4 is approved? Or do i need to apply for EAD as well again?

    For COS to H4 and stamping > Considering long times for COS, Can i exit the country and do stamping in Mexico and come back ? i am an indian national.

    In future , will there be any issue if i want to apply for Out of Cap H1 from H4 EAD (Incase EAD goes away), if its not stamped at least once in Home country/Other country?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      KD,
      Technically, the validity of H4 EAD is tied to the H4 holder’s status. I have not seen a situation like yours before, so I don’t know the right answer. But, my two cents, do check with your attorney. In my view, you should be able to use it, as soon as your H4 status is active. The employers will use your H4 and h4 EAD card for I-9 compliance…
      As I said, please double check with an attorney before you puruse this. Also, do update here for community benefit.

      1. Krishna

        Hi KD,

        When you are filing H1, what status you are in, and what your attorney requested (like COS from H4 to H1).
        If so, you will get H1 with I94. The same happens, your H4 EAD will automatically changed and now you are in H1 status.
        If you want to go again on H4 EAD, you need to apply again COS from H1B to H4 EAD.
        May probably, it will impact, while you went to stamping you have to clarify these situation as well.
        As of Kumar said, contact your attorney and take an valuable advice. Good luck.

  10. Striker

    Hi Kumar,

    I have a questions about potential registration system. If they implement this, there will be a flood of petitions right. Will USCIS have any check points to control this ?

  11. karta

    I was planning to travel outside the US next year before the presumed H1B filing start date in April, to avoid my status being automatically withdrawn if I travel while waiting for the result of the lottery – which took months this year.
    If they start H1B registration early for 2021, which could start as early as December 2019, would it be not safe to travel outside the US during this period? Would I have to wait until the lottery result is out?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      karta,
      It would be fine to travel during the registration period as it is not full application. Travel during the actual processing of h1B is the risky one…Some of these details of the dates are not out yet, so too early to plan…discuss with your attorney once as well.

  12. L1A-H1B

    Kumar-
    This is my 6th year going on as L1A and complete 6th year on August 2020. I was not lucky for H1B lottery last 2 year. If I get in lottery and my potion approve in this year shall I continue to stay in US to change of status L1A to H1B. My EB2 I140 already approved. Please advice.

    If not get in H1B lottery can I try for 7th year? or I can go outside for 1 year and again come back.

    My L1A will valid till August,2021.

    Regards,
    KC

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      KC,
      You maybe eligible for something called Compelling Circumstances EAD. Check USCIS website , discuss with your attorney and plan accordingly. Do update after you speak with your attorney here.

  13. Unlucky OPT guy

    Hi, Thanks your post. I have a question for you.
    If we don’t get any news on electronic registration by end of Jan then can we assume that their wont be any electronic registration?

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