USCIS Announces Completion of H-1B Cap Lottery

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that they have received enough electronic registrations during the initial registration period to reach the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B numerical allocations (H-1B cap) including the advanced degree exemption (master’s cap), and that they have now notified all prospective petitioners with selected registrations that they are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition for the named beneficiary on the selected registration. Selected H-1B cap-subject petitions for FY 2022 may be filed with USCIS beginning April 1, 2021 and through June 30, 2021.

Just like last year’s process, it is expected that if there are not enough H-1B petitions submitted by employers through June 30, 2021 to meet the numerical allocations, USCIS would keep selecting registrations through the end of the fiscal year (September 2021). Contact your immigration counsel to discuss possible H-1B alternatives and plan further immigration proceedings for individuals whose petitions were not selected under this year’s lottery.

Nonimmigrant Visa Ban Expected to Expire

Presidential Proclamation 10052 (PP 10052) issued by the Trump administration, which suspended entry of certain nonimmigrants into the U.S. (including H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and J-1 beneficiaries), is expected to sunset on March 31, 2021. The proclamation was extended most recently to March 31, 2021 by former President Trump, and although no official announcement has been made by President Biden, there has been no proclamation issued by the Biden administration further extending the ban.

While the expiration of PP 10052 should mean that individuals with approved petitions who were subject to the ban should now be eligible to apply for their nonimmigrant visa in order to enter the U.S., unfortunately, it is not expected that expiration of PP 10052 will result in immediate processing of their nonimmigrant visa applications by consular posts. The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to impact consular post operations and with many health-related bans still in place, will likely continue to impact consulates’ ability to timely process visa applications. Contact immigration counsel to plan visa application by employees impacted by the ban.

Expansion of Interview Waiver Eligibility

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced that it has expanded the ability of consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying to renew their nonimmigrant visa in the same classification to include those whose prior nonimmigrant visa expired within 48 months. Previously, only those applicants whose nonimmigrant visa expired within 24 months were eligible for an interview waiver. This policy is in effect until December 31, 2021. The policy allows consular officers to continue processing nonimmigrant visa applications while limiting the number of applicants who must appear at a consulate, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Travelers should review the website of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for eligibility information and instructions on applying for a visa without an interview.