U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a Federal Register notice regarding the implementation of the electronic registration process for the upcoming H-1B petitions filing season under the congressionally mandated annual “cap.” The registration period will run from March 1, 2020 to March 20, 2020 for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 H-1B visa cap.  All petitioners for H-1B petitions subject to cap would need to register every intended H-1B petition with USCIS electronically and pay $10 fee for each registration.  Each petition can be registered one time only; duplicate registrations are not allowed and would be disqualified from the lottery.  If more than sufficient number of registrations is received during the registration period (as was the case during several prior cap-subject lottery periods), USCIS will randomly select the number of registered petitions to reach the FY2021 quota.  Selected registrants should be notified by March 31, 2020.  Petitioners should then be allocated a period of at least 90 days to submit their H-1B petitions for the foreign national beneficiaries named in the registrations.

If your company plans to register for cap-subject H-1B petition proceedings in March, now is a good time to start planning and discuss logistics with your immigration legal counsel.  While the data for the petitioner and beneficiaries required for the registration process is fairly basic, there are some critical pitfalls to avoid.  For instance, as petitioners will be expected to specify whether they are submitting registration for regular or the advanced degree exempt H-1Bs, it is important to determine whether the intended H-1B beneficiary is in possession of the education credentials before submitting the registration. In some instances, a formal credentials evaluation may be in order to avoid an inadvertent misrepresentation on the registration entry.  Date of an advanced degree obtainment may also be crucial for the success of the H-1B petition if selected for processing. Just as in prior H-1B lottery years, thorough planning of the H-1B petition proceedings well ahead of the lottery entry submission deadline is one of the key factors of success.