Updated on April 2, 2020.
On Friday, March 27, 2020, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B registrations through its new electronic registration system needed to reach the annual cap, which includes registrations for both the 65,000 regular cap, as well as the 20,000 allotted US advanced degree exemption (or “master’s cap”).
USCIS states that it will notify employers no later than March 31, 2020 if any of their registrations have been selected in the lottery. The process remains as reported in our prior Mobile Workforce post, As March 20 Fast Approaches, Where Do Your H-1B Cap Cases Stand?
USCIS announced on April 1, 2020, that nearly 275,000 unique registrations were submitted to USCIS during the initial registration period, and that the electronic registration process was “well-received” by users. There were more than 40,000 accounts created in the registration system, and nearly 81% of submitted registrations were for candidates from India (67.7%) and China (13.2%). USCIS has reported that roughly 46% of all registrations were for candidates with U.S. advanced degrees. As of April 1, 2020, FY2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions, including petitions eligible for the advanced degree exemption (“Master’s cap”), may now be submitted to USCIS on behalf of selected candidates.
As part of the notification process, USCIS will update employers’ online accounts to show one of the following statuses for each registered candidate:
- Submitted: A registration status may continue to show “Submitted” after the initial selection process has been completed. “Submitted” registrations will remain in consideration for selection until the end of the fiscal year, at which point all registration statuses will change to “Selected,” “Not Selected,” or “Denied.”
- Selected: Selected to file an FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petition, meaning that employers will be able to proceed with preparing and submitting a petition on behalf of that candidate.
- Denied: This status will show if a duplicate registration was submitted by the same employer for the same candidate, or if a payment method was declined and not reconciled. USCIS states that if a registration was denied as a duplicate, all registrations submitted for the candidate for FY2021 are invalid.
Employers will be given a 90-day filing period, as indicated on the USCIS selection notice, to submit the completed H-1B cap-subject petition to USCIS for selected candidates.
The length of time USCIS will take to adjudicate the selected petitions that are submitted by employers within the 90-day filing period is not certain. Effective March 20, 2020, USCIS will not accept any new requests for premium processing. The premium processing suspension announced by USCIS halts new premium processing requests for all H-1B petitions, including FY2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions. For more discussion on this topic, please see our recent post on Mayer Brown’s COVID-19 Blog.
Additional information related to H-1B cap-subject filings may be made publicly available via the USCIS H-1B Employer Data Hub in Q1 of Fiscal Year 2021, which begins in October 2020. This Hub, which was launched on April 1, 2019, provides information related to H-1B petitions processed by the agency, including information on the number of petitions filed, cases approved, and denials issued. USCIS has reported that the agency will provide cumulative quarterly updates and annual releases of H-1B petition data, and anticipates updating the H-1B Employer Data Hub quarterly.
Mayer Brown will continue to provide updates on the H-1B Cap as additional information becomes available from USCIS.