The FY 2021 H-1B cap registration period will close on Friday, March 20, at 12:00pm EDT. Employers and their immigration counsel will have until this time to draft, review, e-sign and submit their registrations to the agency.
To date, the U.S. government’s COVID-19 response has not affected the H-1B cap registration deadlines or procedures.
What Employers Need to do During the Final Days of Registration
If your organization will be working with immigration counsel to draft and submit H-1B cap registrations, the company must do the following:
- Set up an “H-1B registrant” account in the USCIS online system if you have not yet done so. Sponsoring employers must have an H-1B registrant account at my.USCIS.gov, even if they will be represented by counsel during the registration process. There is still time to create an account if you have not done so.
- Identify any last-minute H-1B needs as soon as possible. If your organization has not finished identifying your H-1B cap needs, it must do so quickly so that registrations can be submitted by the March 20 deadline.
- Promptly review each registration drafted by immigration counsel. When your attorney finishes drafting an H-1B cap registration for your organization, the company’s designated signatory must log into the USCIS system to review, approve and e-sign the registration. This is also the time to determine whether any changes or edits need to be made to the company’s registrations. Your organization’s signatory should review registrations as soon as requested to do so.
- Prepare for possible technology slowdowns. The USCIS system is expected to have a very large number of users in the last hours of registration on March 20. This could result in slowdowns and technical glitches, especially because the system is new. Prompt completion and submission of cap registrations can help to minimize last-minute problems.
What Happens after the Registration Period Closes
After the registration period closes on March 20, 2020, USCIS will run two cap lotteries to select 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 lottery to select enough registrations to meet the H-1B cap exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees.
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 and your company’s authorized signatory will need to access his or her my.USCIS.gov account and review the status of each beneficiary.
USCIS will begin to accept H-1B cap petitions on behalf of lottery selectees on April 1, 2020. The petition filing period will end no earlier than June 30, 2020. All FY 2021 H-1B cap petitions must be submitted during this period.