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Proposed changes to H-1B lottery for FY 2020

Updated: Jan 24, 2019

Proposed changes to the H-1B lottery by USCIS include the creation of an electronic registration system for those Petitioners seeking to file cap-subject H-1B petitions. A similar proposal was put forward by USCIS in 2011, but this was never implemented.


This registration system would require each employer to submit an online registration for each potential beneficiary and they would be limited to submitting one registration per individual. Only if selected would an Employer then file a complete H-1B petition. This registration period would open at least 14 days prior to April 1 of each year and would remain open for at least 14 days. USCIS will provide the public with at least 30 days advance notice of the opening of the registration period. This proposed change is intended to help USCIS deal with H-1B cap cases more efficiently.


The second change that the regulation proposes is to reverse the selection order. In previous years the Master’s cap was run first, followed by the regular cap. The proposal, if passed, would mean the regular cap would be run first followed by the Master’s cap. The idea is that when the regular cap is run there will be more applicants with a Master’s degree so overall there should be a higher number of applicants selected with a Master’s degree.


The comment period for this proposal has now passed and the rule is in the final stages. On January 11, 2019, USCIS sent a final version of the proposed regulation to the Office of Management and Budget, for review. In order for the proposal to become effective a final rule must be published in the Federal Register.


Whether this change will take effect for FY 2020 remains to be seen. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) submitted comments on January 2, 2019 urging USCIS to postpone implementation of the registration process until at least FY 2021.


As soon as USCIS release further news on this, I will provide an update accordingly.


January 23, 2019

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