Electronic H-1B Lottery for FY2021 Announced

Posted by Elizabeth Coonan Caitlin Klingenberg on Monday, December 9, 2019

In an effort to streamline processes, U. S.  Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on December 6, 2019 that it will be implementing an electronic registration process for the lottery selection of H-1B cap subject petitions. Under the new process, employers seeking H-1B workers will complete a registration process to determine lottery selection, prior to preparing full petition documents. The registration period will run from March 1 - 20, 2020. The timeframe associated with notification of lottery selection is unclear, but we know that candidates selected in the lottery may begin to file their petitions on April 1, 2020.

Lottery System

By way of background, among the employer-sponsored visas available, the lottery system is unique to the H-1B visa. USCIS only conducts a lottery to determine which petitions will be granted if more petitions are received than the number of visas permitted under the statutory cap.  Currently, the cap is set to allow 65,000 beneficiaries through the general category and another 20,000 for individuals holding advanced degrees (i.e., masters or doctorate degrees). With approximately 200,000 petitions having been filed last year for a total of 85,000 slots, we can expect a lottery again this year.  

New Registration Tool

The new online registration process only requires basic information about the company and each requested worker, such as name and address of the company, contact information for an authorized signatory of the company, and name, degree level, and passport information of the beneficiary. USCIS is imposing a fee of $10/registration. USCIS has also indicated the possibility of suspending the registration for technical difficulties if their system crashes.  

Implications and Considerations

While the new registration system will undoubtedly result in cost savings for employers, it is critical to evaluate the employee’s qualifications in conjunction with the legal standards before committing to sponsorship. BrownWinick immigration attorneys Beth Coonan and Caitlin Klingenberg stand ready and able to help you navigate the process. Contact us at coonan@brownwinick.com and klingenberg@brownwinick.com.