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USCIS Completes FY 2021 H-1B Cap Selection Process

USCIS has announced that the annual limit for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 H-1B cap employment has been met and the lottery selection process has been completed. USCIS intends to notify employers of the selection results by March 31, but some registrants are already able to view the status of their submissions in their registration accounts.

During the initial registration period, employers submitted more than enough registrations to meet the quota of 65,000 standard H-1B cap numbers and the cap exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees. The precise number of cap filings has not yet been disclosed.

What’s Next: Lottery Results Notification

To learn the lottery results, your attorney and your company’s authorized signatory will need to access his or her account and review the status of each beneficiary. In addition, 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.

For each registered beneficiary, the USCIS online system will reflect one of the following statuses:

  • Selected: The employer may file a FY 2021 H-1B cap petition for the beneficiary
  • Submitted: The beneficiary was not chosen in the initial lottery selection, but the beneficiary will remain in consideration for selection until the end of the fiscal year. The employer may not file an FY 2021 cap petition for the beneficiary unless notified otherwise by USCIS.
  • Denied: A duplicate registration was submitted by the employer for the same beneficiary, or the payment method was declined and not reconciled. If a registration was denied as a duplicate, all the employer’s registrations for the specific beneficiary are invalid.

H-1B Cap Petition Filing Set to Begin April 1

USCIS is set to 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 90 days thereafter. All FY 2021 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.

As previously announced, the agency has temporarily suspended premium processing of all I-129 and I-140 petitions, including H-1B cap cases, due to the COVID-19 crisis.

What This Means for Foreign Nationals Registered in the Cap Lottery

Your H-1B sponsoring employer and its counsel will be accessing the USCIS registration system over the coming days to determine the outcome of the FY 2021 cap lotteries. Employers will review selections and follow their agreed communication protocols for notification of selection. Please rest assured that you will be notified in due course. For those selected in the lottery, your employer’s legal team will proceed with next steps for filing an H-1B petition with USCIS. If your registration was not selected, please rest assured that a communication and any related immigration strategy will follow.

What this Means for Employers

In the coming days, you and your attorneys will need to log into the registration system to determine which beneficiaries have been selected and obtain the USCIS selection notice for each such beneficiary. Your organization’s H-1B registration leads should also 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.

To facilitate the submission of H-1B cap petitions, work closely with your legal team so that essential supporting evidence, including the USCIS selection notice, company documentation, beneficiary educational documents and the like, can be collected promptly if it has not yet been gathered.

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