H-1B Cap: New Year, New Lottery System!
December 10, 2019
By Benjamin Nucci and Rebecca Wintercheidt
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it’s implementing changes to the H-1B lottery system.
Per the December 9, 2019 final rule, employers filing cap-subject H-1B petitions in 2020 for an October 1, 2020 start date will be required first to electronically register, provide only basic company and beneficiary information, and pay a $10 fee. Some important highlights:
- The initial registration period will be open from March 1, 2020, through March 20, 2020.
- The H-1B lottery will then be based on the registrations received.
- Employers with selected petitions will then be eligible to file the full H-1B petition within a prescribed timeframe.
This recent amendment is part of USCIS’s revision to the lottery process. In prior lotteries, the U.S. master’s cap petitions used to be selected first for the 20,000 master’s spots and then the remaining unselected U.S. master’s degree applications would be considered in the larger regular H-1B pool with 65,000 available slots. Now, the process is reversed:
- The lottery is conducted for the 65,000 slots from the entire pool of H-1B applications;
- Those unselected U.S. master’s petitions from that lottery are then considered for the 20,000 master’s spots.
The change is expected to result in an estimated increase of up to 16 percent (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B petitions involving a foreign national with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution.
Employers considering sponsoring a foreign national for an H-1B should start the process early in light of the system changes and USCIS’s continued heightened scrutiny into the program.
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