Changes to the H-1B Application Process and What You Should Know

OISS Newsletter: Friday January 17, 2020

First, a general overview of H-1B:

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. The government limits the number of H-1B visas authorized to 85,000 per year.  For profit companies are subject to this limitation (Cap).  In past years over 200,000 applications for these 85,000 visas were submitted. As such, the applications go through a lottery system to obtain H-1B visa approval. Non-profit research organizations, such as universities, are not subject to the H-1B cap.

So, what’s changed?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it is implementing a registration process in the next H-1B lottery. Employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for the fiscal year 2021 cap must first electronically register and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee.

USCIS believes the electronic registration process will streamline processing by reducing paperwork and data exchange, and will provide an overall cost savings to employers. Under this new process, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap will complete a registration process that requires only basic information about their company and each requested worker. USCIS will open an initial registration period from March 1 through March 20, 2020. The H-1B random selection process will then be run on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

It is important to understand that these new changes are only required of the cap-subject employer.  The start date to file an H-1B cap-subject application is still April 1.

Written By: Lara Jennings, International Student & Scholar Advisor