On January 31, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the final rule aimed at making the H-1B cap/lottery season more efficient.
Due to the over-subscription of cap cases each year, USCIS conducts an H-1B lottery every year in April to determine which applicants will be selected to process their H-1Bs for that year. Excluded from the cap are cases for certain exempt organizations (e.g. universities) and persons (e.g. those applying for extension and change-of-employer petitions). These cases will be unaffected by the final rule.
Although the final rule is effective from April 1, 2019, the electronic registration requirement is suspended for this year’s cap season to complete testing of the system. From next year, petitioners will be required to register electronically with USCIS during a designated registration period. Following lottery selection, petitioners will then be directed to file petitions for adjudication within a designated period of at least 90 days. USCIS expects pre-registration to alleviate the burden of receiving hundreds of thousands of petitions and support documentation for cases that ultimately will not be selected in the lottery.
Reversal of Order of the Lottery
There are two lotteries that are conducted under the H-1B cap. Previously, the lottery for advanced U.S. degree holders was conducted first followed by the regular H-1B lottery. For this year, the order of selection would be reversed. Firstly, all registrations towards the regular H-1B cap will be counted. Once sufficient registrations to reach this cap are determined, USCIS will then conduct the advanced degree lottery. USCIS believes that reversing this order will result in an estimated increase of 16% in the number of H-1B approvals for those holding advanced U.S. degrees.
Since filings for the H-1B cap season starts very soon in April 2019, please contact a WR Immigration professional with any questions about H-1B filings at (310) 570-4088.