By Dev B. Viswanath, Esq.
With the year 2021 under way, employers are all gearing up and organizing candidates for H1B filings for Fiscal Year 2022, which will begin October 1, 2021. The filings for H1Bs will start around April this year and the lottery system will be based on cases selected through pre-registration, similar to last year, which will likely be allowed in March.
USCIS started the electronic registration system last year, for employers who wish to obtain H-1B visas for their prospective employees. This method was a way for the government to streamline the lottery process for H1Bs subject to the cap (both general and master’s degree cap). Based on last year’s process, it is actually quite a good system. Amazingly, something related to immigration I can compliment the outgoing Trump Administration for.
This system requires petitioning companies to submit information on the company and professionals they want to apply for in the H-1B lottery for the following fiscal year. There was a $10 fee for each employee during registration last year and we expect that the amount will be similar this year, if not the same.
Based on last year’s guidance, each employer can put up to 250 employee beneficiaries in one registration, and $10 for each of the beneficiaries. So the maximum amount to be paid in one registration would be $2500. The pre-registration period is from March 1 through March 20. All H1Bs that are being filed under the cap for fiscal year 2022 must complete this pre-registration process and that is the only way that a petition will be picked in the lottery. Notification of the same should come by March 31, assuming sufficient numbers have been submitted through preregistration.
Prospective petitioners with selected registrations will be eligible to file an FY 2022 cap-subject petition only for the alien named in the registration and within the filing period indicated on the eligibility notice.
The electronic registration system has proved to be a very valuable process. First, it allows employers to save a lot of money, time, and energy because until they know their potential applicant is picked in the lottery, there is no need for a full H1B petition to be prepared. Second, once selected, an employer will have 90 days to submit the H1B petition which is ample time to prepare, organize and file. Third, because they save so much money up front, employers may be encouraged to file more H1Bs pre-registrations so that at least one candidate and possibly more get picked, and the employer can decide if multiple selections are made then how many petitions the company wants to file. As long as the selected case is filed within 90 days, the petition is fine and will be adjudicated. If the matter is selected and the employer does not file within 90 days, then that selected matter is cancelled and the employer will not be able to file an H1B petition for that candidate in the fiscal year. And Fourth, for any case not selected in the first round, the matter is NOT discarded, but held in abeyance. After 90 days any cases that are denied or withdrawn, or simply not acted upon, those H1B numbers will go back into the pool and a 2nd batch of selections will be made. So, there are several bites at the “apple” and more chances to utilize the full number of H1B visas available in any given year.
For those employers who have counsel/attorneys, there will be account process for the attorney and then any account process for the employer and they are interconnected so that preregistration can take place. AND absolutely no one should have duplicate filings for the same employee and same employer for the same job. If that occurs the entire pre registration for that beneficiary will be cancelled as moot.
For successful applicants, the system will send a confirmation saying that the pre registration is complete. Then it will be a wait game to find out if the applicant is picked. For any employers or potential H1B applicants, if you need information or advice, please contact an experienced immigration attorney.