In late 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would implement the registration process for the fiscal year 2021 H-1B cap. The H-1B visa is used by businesses that want to employ foreign nationals to work in a specialty occupation requiring theoretical or technical expertise. The initial registration period for the 2021 cap will open at 12 p.m. ET on March 1, 2020 and run through 12 p.m. ET on March 20, 2020. USCIS will use the myUSCIS online portal to conduct the electronic H-1B registration process. Prospective petitioners may begin to designate themselves as H-1B registrants on the myUSCIS accounts beginning February 24, 2020. The following information will be required for the registration process:
- Legal name of the prospective petitioning company or organization;
- The Doing Business As names of the prospective petitioning company or organization, if applicable;
- Employer identification number (EIN) of the prospective petitioning company or organization;
- Primary U.S. office address of the prospective petitioning company or organization; and
- Legal name, title, and contact information (daytime phone number and email address) of the authorized signatory.
- Full legal name;
- Date of birth;
- Country of birth;
- Country of citizenship;
- Passport number, if any; and
- Whether the beneficiary is eligible for the U.S. advanced-degree cap, or will be eligible for the advanced-degree cap at the time a petition is filed on the beneficiary's behalf.
Once the registration period is over, USCIS will conduct a lottery. USCIS has confirmed that the lottery is electronic and preference is not given to submissions submitted on any particular day. USCIS stated that it "intends to notify registrants with selected registrations from the initial registration period no later than March 31, 2020." Once the lottery is conducted, the account holder who submitted the selected registration will receive a notification from USCIS via email or text message stating that there has been a change in the status of a cap registration. "Submitted" means the beneficiary will remain in consideration for selection until the end of the fiscal year. "Selected" means the beneficiary has been chosen in the lottery. "Not selected" means the beneficiary was not chosen in the lottery, but their registration will be retained in the (unlikely) event that further H-1B cap numbers become available for 2021. "Denied" means that USCIS determined that there was a prohibited duplicate registration and the beneficiary was denied entry into the lottery.
The proposed registration process could affect cap-gap benefits. Cap-gap extension extends an eligible F-1 student's status to bridge the gap between the end of F-1 status and the start of H-1B status, thereby allowing the student to remain in the U.S. during the gap. Under the proposed registration process, cap-gap benefits apply only upon filing the H-1B cap petition, not the H-1B electronic registration. Therefore, only those individuals selected through the H-1B registration process and who timely file an H-1B cap petition requesting an October 1 start date will have their duration of status, and any applicable employment authorization, automatically extended until October 1. A rejected, denied, revoked or withdrawn petition prior to that start date would effectively end a cap-gap extension. USCIS must receive the "full petition" prior to the expiration of approved post-completion OPT (for employment authorization) and prior to expiration of 60-day grace period after OPT (for duration of status).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.