The H-1B cap registration period has now closed. USCIS will accept no further cap registrations against the FY 2022 quota.
What’s next: the cap lotteries
In the coming days, the agency will conduct two selection lotteries to choose the beneficiaries on whose behalf an H-1B cap petition can be filed. The first lottery will contain all registered H-1B beneficiaries. USCIS will use this lottery to select enough registrations to meet the regular H-1B cap of 65,000. The second lottery will contain all registered master’s-cap beneficiaries who were not selected in the first lottery. USCIS will use this second lottery to select enough registrations to meet the H-1B cap exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees.
Lottery results notification
USCIS plans to notify employers and immigration counsel of the lottery results by March 31. For each cap registration, USCIS should send an email to the employer’s authorized signatory and immigration counsel. The email will notify the recipient that there has been a change in the status of a cap registration. To learn the lottery results, your attorney can access their my.USCIS.gov account and review the status of each beneficiary.
If a beneficiary has been selected, the USCIS system will provide a selection notice for the case, which must be printed out for inclusion with the H-1B cap petition to be filed for the beneficiary. The notice will provide the USCIS address where the petition must be filed; this address may be different from the filing location where the employer’s petitions are usually filed.
USCIS also noted in its H-1B registration webinar last month that selection notices this year will also identify whether the H-1B registration was selected under the regular or the advanced degree quota.
Petition filing set to begin April 1
USCIS is set to begin to accept H-1B cap petitions on behalf of lottery selectees on Thursday, April 1, 2021. The petition filing period will end no earlier than 90 days thereafter. All FY 2022 H-1B cap petitions must be submitted during this period.
Though in most cases a cap petition can be filed at any point during the filing period, some cases may need to be filed at specific times. If the beneficiary is an F-1 student working on optional practical training (OPT) who will need cap-gap protection, the petition must be filed before his or her OPT employment authorization document expires. If the beneficiary is awaiting completion or award of a required degree, the petition must not be filed until the degree has been issued or the beneficiary has obtained documentation from the appropriate school official that degree requirements have been satisfied.
The adjudication period and availability of premium processing
USCIS is expected to begin receipting and adjudicating H-1B cap petitions as they are received during the filing period. Despite the minimum 90-day duration of the filing period, the agency is expected to receive a large number of cap petitions on or near April 1, which could delay receipting.
USCIS has not announced whether premium processing will be suspended for FY 2022 cap petitions. At this time, premium processing is being accepted for all application types, but USCIS has announced service suspensions with little or no notice in prior years.
What this means for employers
In the coming days, your organization’s H-1B registration leads should look out for emails from the USCIS registration system notifying them of action taken on the organization’s registrations. Your attorneys will also receive these notifications.