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H1B Visa Pre-registration Requirements Proposed Rule, Lottery, Analysis

As announced in Fall 2018 Regulatory Agenda, DHS and USCIS published the proposed new H1B petition pre-registration rule in Federal Register for public review and comments. It had an expected date of Oct 2018 for Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), but got delayed to December. Actual proposed rule document is 139 pages. We will cover the below aspects of new rule.

  • Background of H1B pre-registration rule
  • Summary of key changes with New H1B Pre-registration Rule
  • H1B Electronic Pre-registration Process, Requirements, Fee
  • Benefits of New System as per USCIS
  • Common FAQs on the New H1B Pre-registration Rule

Update :  USCIS published final rule on Jan 31, 2019.  To review the final version with updated info, process, read H1B Registration Rule for Lottery, Process, Fee, FAQs

Background of H1B Pre-registration Rule  :

This rule dates back to 2011, it had NPRM for public comments from March 3rd to May 2nd, 2011, and received about 60 comments from public, but it did not go past that proposed rule stage due to various reasons. You can check H1B Advance Registration 2011 Rule Details for more info.  USCIS is reviving/superseding  the original rule and has added more cost analysis, details in accordance with Trump Executive Order for implementing Buy American Hire American to stop H1B abuse.  This rule is officially called as Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking To File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Cap-Subject Aliens”. It appeared in Spring 2018 and Fall 2018 regulatory agenda and is published at RegInfo.gov Official Rule

Summary of the New USCIS Rule for H1B Petitions Pre-registration for Lottery :

    • Changes to H1B Cap Petition Filings Process : In the past, employers planning for filing H1B petition under cap would directly send the complete H1B petition packet to USCIS and let them process under H1B lottery and then send reject notice. Now,  under the new proposed rule, employers planning to file H1B petitions for next fiscal year are required to pre-register with USCIS electronically during a designated registration period. If USCIS receives more than required number of petitions for the cap, then they would conduct random selection aka H1B lottery for the registration received during that period.  They would keep unselected registrations on reserve in system and use them if needed to meet the quota cap as needed. See below on the new and old process charts.  Also, below is a short video explaining the same. H1B Visa Lottery System before rule for Registrations process diagram H1B Visa Pre-registration electronic filing New Rule Process Diagram

  • Changes to H1B Visa Lottery Order : In the past for H1Ban Visa Lottery Process, first lottery was conducted for US Masters holders to meet 20,000 cap and then US Masters petitions not selected in that pool were added to regular quota pool and lottery was conducted for the entire pool to meet 65,000 cap quota. Now, with the new proposed rule, USCIS will reverse the order in which they will do the lottery
    • New H1B Lottery Process – Order :  With the new rule, first lottery is done from the entire pool of registrations to meet regular quota cap of 65,000  cap and then lottery is done only for US Masters or higher degree applicants to meet the 20,000 cap. They estimate that it will increase the chances of US Masters quota applicants by 16%, which is approximately 5,340 additional petitions selected for US Masters quota candidates.  They claim it to be “more meritorious selection”, but to be very clear, nothing other than order and increase in percentage of probability for US masters candidates. See below on the new and old process in diagrams.  Also, we have a short video, if you want to see explanation. USCIS H1B Visa Lottery Process Diagram New Pre-register Rule H1B Visa Lottery Process Diagram

H1B Visa Petition Electronic Pre-Registration System Process :

Under the new proposed rule, below are various aspects like dates, information required, process, notifications.

Key Milestones/ Dates for Electronic Registration

  • Electronic Registration would start at least 14 calendar days before the first day of H1B filing of the season, which is April 1st.
  • The electronic pre-registration for H1B cap petitions would last for a minimum period of 14 calendar days.
  • USCIS would notify public on their website at least 30 days in advance regarding the start date of electronic pre-registration for H1B petitions.  Also, they would announce if they plan to re-open registration period.
  • Employers / Sponsors are not required to file H1B LCA with DOL for the electronic pre-registration for the beneficiary. They can do it after the beneficiary is selected in the electronic registration period.

Information Required in H1B Electronic Pre-registration

  • Employers/ H1B petitioners are required to provide below information in their electronic registration
  • Employer / Sponsor Info :  Employer’s Name,  Employer Identification Number, Mailing Address, Authorized representative’s name, title, contact info like phone, email.
  • Beneficiary / Applicant’ General  Info :  Full name, Gender,  Passport number, Date of Birth, Country of Citizenship and Country of Birth.
  • Beneficiary / Applicant’  US Education Info :  Info regarding applicant’s US Master’s or higher education.
  • Immigration Attorney info : Details of accredited representative and as needed form G-28.
  • Additional Info :  Also, any additional information as required by the new electronic system.
  • Attestation : H1B Sponsors / Petitioners are required to attest in the pre-registration system that all the contents of registrations are true and accurate and they plan to employ the beneficiary as submitted in registration.

Duplicate Filings – New Electronic Pre-Registration of H1Bs :

USCIS similar to current system says that in the new rule that it is prohibiting employers from submitting more than one registration for the same beneficiary/ applicant.  Employers needs to attest in the system regarding their intent. USCIS indicates that will monitor selected registrations and H1B petitions filed for those selected closely and if they find out that fraud is involved with multiple registrations, they would hold such petitioners accountable for not complying with attestations.

Fee for New Electronic Pre-Registration of H1Bs :

USCIS does not plan to charge any separate additional fee for the new H1B visa electronic pre-registration system. Regular current H1B visa petition filing fee will apply for all the selected registrations during the filing process.

 Duration to File H1B petition after selected in electronic registration :

USCIS will give at least 60 days for employers to properly file H1B petition, if their registration was selected by USCIS. They will notify the employer with the details of beneficiary selected and by when they need to file the H1B petition. If filed before or after the given filing period, such petitions would be rejected/denied. Also, there may be multiple filing windows for employers as USCIS plans to manage the load of processing.

 Notifications of Electronic Registrations :

Each  employer/ sponsor would receive automatic electronic notifications regarding their registration with USCIS and have a unique identifying number that USCIS would use for tracking purposes.  Employers cannot modify the registration request once received by USCIS.

Update :  On Jan 31st, 2019 USCIS published a final rule of H1B Registration Requirements ,with few changes.

Benefits of New H1B Electronic Registration System as per USCIS, Other Provisions :

  • Reduction in Overall Costs for Petitioners, Faster Notifications : Majority of the 139 pages of the proposed rule are around cost calculations and savings. USCIS claims that the new H1B lottery pre-registration system would reduce the overall cost for petitioners and most cost effective process for USCIS as well, including the administrative burden for USCIS to handle physical packages of thousands of petitions. They estimate that petitioners/ sponsors and USCIS would save anywhere from $42.4 million to $66.5 million USD per annum with this new rule.  Also, they say that this new rule will reduce the wait times for cap selection notifications.
  • Integrity of the System :  USCIS claims that the new system will increase the integrity of the system saying that filing of cap subject petition is restricted to the name that was in the original pre-registration that was selected.
  • Alternatives Considered by USCIS :  1. First in first out – unfair advantage for companies with more resources. 2. Status quo – more cost and burden to everyone.
  • USCIS Provision to Temporarily Suspend Registration Process : USCIS has added a provision to suspend the registration process during any fiscal year as per their convenience to deal with new technical system.  Also, they say that this provision would also allow USCIS to delay/ suspend the implementation for H1B Visa 2020 cap season, if the process is not complete on time to test and implement.

Public Comments (NPRM) Dates : Public can submit comments on the new proposed rule starting from Monday, December 3rd, 2019 until Jan 2nd, 2019. You can submit your comments during these dates at Regulations.Gov H1B Rule

Common FAQs on the New H1B Petitions Pre-registration Rule :

Does this New H1B Pre-registration rule apply for H1B 2020 Season ? Will everything be ready for FY 2020 Season ?
Well, as of now, it is not confirmed. It may or may not happen for the upcoming H1B season. USCIS says, if the proposed rule becomes final rule and they get enough time to implement the new system, they would like to have it for FY 2020 season. But, they also have clause saying that they have provision to suspend it, if they cannot implement the new system or if they have any issues with the new electronic system. Knowing the pace of USCIS, it can be very tight as they need to review all the comments submitted by users and then change or modify the rule as needed and then publish the final rule. We need to wait and see on the number of comments that USCIS gets to be able to tell their burden to review and publish changes.

Does the new rule has any Higher Paid or High Salary Requirements like $100K per year ?
There are no requirements published in the proposed rule regarding any salary requirements for pre-registration of H1B petitions.

Are there any Higher Skills/Degree requirements in the new rule for H1B Petitions Registration ?
No, there are no such requirements in new rule to have higher skills or higher education degree to file H1B petitions. Only the order of H1B petition lottery has changed.

Does this new rule create any priority date kind of queues for Green Card ?
No, there is nothing planned as such.

Are there any country specific limits for H1Bs in the new rule ?
No, there are not such restrictions.

Overall, it looks to have some benefits to the employers, USCIS and US Masters students. It is too early to say, if this will prevent fraud and increase the integrity of the H1B program. We will continue to update this article with more info as we analyse more info.

What are your thoughts on the new rule ? Is it good for H1B seeking employees ?

References : Official H1B Registration Rule in Federal Register


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  1. They say that they might suspend the service if there is any glitch in electronic system. Does that mean there might be a chance that no h1 petition might be processed for FY2020? Or they will go back to usual processing?

    • Well, it means that, if they are not ready or believe their system is not ready, they will not use the registration system and use the lottery and process like before taking applications for first 5 days and then doing lottery.

  2. I am waqar Ahmed from Pakistan. I am plumber I have 10 years experience.I have all document passport and plumbing trade certificate. I need Visa.+923432084967

  3. I see a big problem in this new proposed system of electronic pre-registration.

    On a very broad level, US administration has issues with employers who are misusing H1B system by bringing in cheap labour. To reduce this to some extent in FY2017, USCIS introduced an additional fee of USD 4,000 for employers who have 50 or more employees and 50% of their employees are non-immigrant workers. This in my opinion was a smart move and it helped in reducing the number of H1B petitions in 2018 as compared to 2017. (Specially, in light of full fee refund rule of all non-selected candidates of H1B petitions)

    Now, if this electronic pre-registration does not need any fee to be paid, it can see a huge upsurge in H1B petitions by the so-called Indian service providers. They have multi thousand employees in India & filing pre-registration for them without any fee will be easy.

    Also, I do not understand the logic of 16% increase, as stated by USCIS, of petitioners with US post graduate degree. Just by changing the lottery sequence how does it increase the prospects of advanced degree holders? Even in the older system, the advance degree holders not selected in 20,000 quota were added in general pool?

    • Where does it say they wont charge any fees, it mentions no additional fee will be charged apart from the regular fees for electronic filings. correct me if I am wrong.
      About the logic of 16% i did some math and the chances of Masters will increase, let me try to explain you, in current system lets say there were 100,000 general and 100,000 master applications. step1: master lottery not selected are dumped into general and run again. lets say 80000 were remaining so in step2 total 185000 will fight for 65000 quota.
      Now in new system Step1: 200,000 fight for 65000 quota, lets say again 20000 Master gets selected. So in step2 Remaining 80,000 will fight for 20,000 quota. But it all depends on step 1 how many master applicants are picked up, if more masters are picked in step 1 there will be less applicants remaining for step 2 and which will increase more chances of master applicants getting selected.
      To conclude master applicants will be eating more of the 65,000 quota compared to earlier depending on random lottery algorithm.
      We will know for sure in FY 2020 if they implement this new system. BE POSTITIVE.

      • Fee is paid along with filling of petition. If petition is filed only for “lottery picked” candidates, it appears as if the fee will not be charged at the stage of pre-registration.

        Thanks for your example but how does it make it clear that percentage of advanced degree holders will increase?

    • But the frauds only come from the small company as they use consultancy. If this rule will be applied, then multiple filling, multiple application can be reduced for sure. Also, if the same person does two petitions from different companies will easily be caught.

  4. Q: Is it OK to file 2 petitions from a different company (X & Y) for same level position,same pay scale? I am not asking about duplicate filing from same company (X&X) or (Y&Y). Please advise

    • Well, as long as they are different companies, not related in any way and genuine offers ( not like multiple vendors filing for same client position), then allowed. USCIS is seeking more inputs from public to eliminate fraud caused by flooding many petitions for same beneficiary in different ways for better chances.

    • Employers can conduct own lottery once they get registration numbers…
      This will give preference to beneficiary who is going to be out of status very soon and also attorneys wont be able to make much money once this system in place and desi consultancies cheating people in the name lottery can’t do here after because they will get registration count and can’t tell people that “we filed your petition but you are not selected in lottery”


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