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USCIS Confirms H1B Registration Dates for FY 2021 Season, Details

Earlier today USCIS released a press note confirming the launch of New H1B Registration System for upcoming H1B Visa 2021 Season and listed out the key dates. Let’s look at the details of key points from the press release and key dates as outlined by USCIS.  Also, we will add more info related to the registration system and details for clarity.

If you are not aware of the new registration system by USCIS for H1Bs, I suggest you read the article H1B Registration Rule – Lottery, Fee, Process to get complete understanding of the process.

Summary of USCIS News for H1B Registration System Dates:

Below are the key details from the USCIS press release. We will give reference to additional details, wherever needed for more clarity and understanding.

  • Pilot Testing Phase Complete:  Earlier this year, USCIS announced that they were testing the H1B registration system and were hopeful to launch it for H1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 season.  Today, they announced that the pilot testing was successful for the new system and they are implementing the new system for upcoming H1B 2021 Season. They also confirmed that the successful pilot testing phase had sessions with industry representatives to validate the same.
  • Fee for H1B Registrations : Confirming the previous press release of fee, they reaffirmed that employers, who plan to file cap subject petitions for FY 2021 season, need to submit registrations for H1B applicants they plan to file and pay a fee of $10 for each applicant as part of the process. Originally this was supposed to be free, but USCIS changed its stance earlier this year and added $10 fee for covering administrative costs.
  • H1B Registration Process, Benefits:
    • USCIS reiterated that the new electronic system will reduce the paperwork, save cost and streamline the overall process for employers.
    • Under the new process, employers would need to submit basic information related to their company and the applicant.
    • Historically, employers had to file complete H1B petition with all the details and it was a lot of unnecessary paperwork, mailing cost, process overhead, etc.…If not picked in lottery, all the paperwork was wasted and sent back. USCIS says the new system will help remove all that overhead for unselected registrations.  
    • They also say that the as the process is online, it is complete modernization from previous paper-based system.
  • H1B Registration Period Dates: USCIS confirmed the H1B registration dates for initial registration from March 1st through March 20th, 2020.  This is in-line with the final rule, where they said, they will at least have it open for 14 calendar days. USCIS is giving 3 weeks for employers to submit the registrations, which is a more than the minimum they have in the official regulation.
  • H1B Lottery for Registration : USCIS mentioned that there will be random selection process, popularly known as H1B Visa Lottery, if needed. Basically, if there are more H1B registrations  received than the required H1B Visa Cap of 85,000, then there will be H1B Lottery for the registrations submitted by employers. If we look at the H1B Visa Cap Filing History , we had lottery for the past 7 consecutive years and it would very likely be the same for the upcoming season as well and we can anticipate more registration and thus lottery as well.
  • H1B Registration System – Complete Details, Step by Step Guides : USCIS says that they will post detail instructions informing the H1B registration process on its website with additional key dates and timelines as they reach closer to the registration period.  Also, they plan to publish the details of the implementation of the H1B registration in Federal register as well in coming weeks.
  • Additional Registrations after Initial Window : USCIS also confirmed that, if they do not receive enough petitions during the planned registration period between March 1st and March 20th, 2020, they may open up the registrations again to accept more registrations. They will determine based on what they receive during the initial phase.
  • H1B Registration – Lottery Results: They have not explicitly give out details on the USCIS website press release, but they did mention in the email alert that they will have lottery results of the H1B Registrations no later than March 31st. See below screenshot. It could be earlier as well…so technically employers can start to file petitions from April 1st, 2020, just like in previous years.
  • Duplicate Registrations for H1B Lottery : While the press release on USCIS website does not talk about this, the email sent ( screenshot below) indicates, where they say “petitioners can register multiple aliens during single online submission, but the duplicate registrations for the same beneficiary in same fiscal year would be discarded”. Meaning that, even if petitioners submit multiple registrations for same employee, the duplicate filings would be removed from the lottery. The details are not fully clear, if they would allow genuine registrations from two different employers, who are willing to hire a candidate on H1B. This was allowed in the past and even had the same text in the final Registration Rule…So, not fully clear on what this means. We need to wait for the additional details on this to be sure…
USCIS H1B Lottery Results Date - Duplicate petitions Info

What’s Missing in the Press Release?  Details based on H1B Registration Final Rule ?

  • How many days to File Complete H1B Petition:  These dates were not explicitly mentioned as well in the press release. As per previous H1B registration final rule, employers would get 90 days for filing the petitions. This was 60 days in regulation draft but was revised to 90 days in the final rule. We need to see, if there will be any changes, when they announce more details.
  • Details to be submitted for each H1B registration: We are yet to get the final complete details, but based on the previously published final registration rule, below are the details they said that are needed to be submitted for each registration. Again, the below information is for you to be prepared ahead, we will update the final details once USCIS releases the same closer to the start date.  
    • 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.
  • Premium Processing FY 2021 : Usually the premium processing is suspended for first few weeks during the start of H1B season, there are no details on the same in the press release. We need to wait and see, what comes out closer to the H1B start date.

What’s our take? More petitions? Chances of Fraud?

Overall, it is definitely a better move to implement the registration system than the previous tedious paperwork process. But, it does not really solve the problem of demand and supply for H1Bs.  As the fee is $10, there are more employers willing to take the chance and apply for registrations. The low fee can really inflate the number of filings, reducing the chances for everyone…. Also, we feel the low fee seems like a trap setup by USCIS to weed out all the candidates and employers, who plan to abuse the system and file duplicate petitions…So, be careful and avoid submitting duplicate petitions. They also indicated that they would discard the duplicate petitions, so not sure how that will work…technically, they can run a simple query by Passport number of applicants to weed out the duplicates…Only time will tell, how the new system would work…let’s see…

What do you think of the new Registration System for H1B filings? Your thoughts? Share in comments.  

Reference : USCIS Press Release


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