On April 1, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in the electronic pre-registration lottery procedure could be filed if based on a valid selected registration. The pre-registration H-1B filing period concluded on March 20, 2020.
This H-1B cap season for FY 2021 marks the first time USCIS utilized an electronic pre-registration process and the agency considers it a success. A record number of nearly 275,000 unique registrations were submitted for the H-1B visa program, clearly demonstrating the high demand for specialty occupation and professional workers in the United States. Of those 275,000 petitions filed, roughly 46% were for prospective beneficiaries with U.S. advanced degrees. The agency further disclosed that there were more than 40,000 accounts created, nearly 81% of recipients were from India (67.7%) and China (13.2%). The amount of paper exchanged between USCIS and petitioners will also dramatically decrease this year.
The period for filing H-1B petitions commenced April 1, 2020, and concludes on June 30, 2020. Assuming their H-1B petition is approved, the H-1B foreign national may begin employment on October 1, 2020. For those foreign nationals currently in student status in the United States, pursuant to optional practical training, the H-1B cap-gap rules will allow them to continue to remain and work in the United States over the summer months. Many others will expect to apply for H-1B visas at U.S. consular posts.
Selection in the pre-registration lottery does not guarantee approval of H-1B visa status. The petitioner and beneficiary for the visa classification must qualify for the visa per federal regulations and requirements.
It is important to note, as well, that for the moment, USCIS has suspended premium processing of all nonimmigrant petition filings, including the H-1B cap filings. For an additional filing fee payment of $1440.00, premium processing requests will guarantee adjudication of the H-1B petition within 15 calendar days of the filing. If and when premium processing is resumed, our firm will issue an updated alert.