This year the process for selecting H-1b petitions is changing. An annual cap of 65,000 visas for foreign national employees holding the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree and an additional 20,000 visas available for employees with a U.S. Master’s degree or higher limits the number of accepted petitions. In past years, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducted a selection process based on the submission of completed petitions and supporting documents. After conducting the selection process, the USCIS notified those who were selected in the lottery by issuing receipt notices. Petitions not selected were returned to petitioners.
In January of 2019, the Department of Homeland Security amended the H-1b regulations, changing the selection and registration process. Cap-subject petitioners are now required to electronically register with the USCIS during a designated registration period: March 1 through March 20, 2020. This is an earlier filing date than the first week of April as in prior years, but the employer now has more time to file the registration to be considered for an H-1b visa. Under this new process, employers or their authorized representatives complete a registration with basic information about the company and the proposed H-1b employee and pay a $10 registration fee.
By March 31, the USCIS will conduct the selection and electronically notify the registrants whether they are selected. If the application is selected, the employer will have at least 90 days, beginning on April 1, 2020, to file the full H-1b petition. The amendments also change the way the selection is conducted to increase the chances of selecting foreign workers with U.S. Master’s degrees.