Answers to common questions about the H-1B electronic registration process
Last year, employers saw one of the most significant changes to the H-1B cap process in recent memory: a new electronic registration system.
To help sponsoring employers navigate this new system, Envoy sat down with affiliated law firm, Corporate Immigration Partners, to get more insights about electronic registration and how employers can best prepare for H-1B cap season.
Six H-1B electronic registration questions from employers, answered
EG: What is the electronic registration system and how does it make the H-1B petition process different?
CIP: Electronic registration changes the H-1B cap process from a single-stage process to a two-stage process. Previously, employers and their immigration attorneys would begin petition preparation before the first business day of April, at which point USCIS would accept petitions for the next five business days. Once this period ended, they would conduct the random lottery to select 85,000 H-1B beneficiaries and notify the sponsoring employers by paper receipt notices, while returning petitions not selected.
Now, employers no longer must prepare and file a full petition ahead of the lottery—they will instead electronically register foreign nationals they wish to sponsor by submitting basic information about their organization and the employee after creating an online account through the myUSCIS portal. For each employee or candidate that an employer registers, there is a mandatory, nonrefundable $10 USCIS fee. USCIS will use this information to conduct the lottery and notify employers and their selected employees, who then will need to submit a full H-1B visa petition to USCIS.
EG: What are the important dates to remember?
CIP: The new H-1B lottery process now begins in early March, with employers required to register each employee they wish to sponsor during a period of 14 calendar days in March each fiscal year (specific dates are designated by USCIS each year). Following this period, USCIS will conduct the lottery to select the 85,000 beneficiaries before March 31st, and sponsoring employers will be notified electronically. Beginning April 1st, employers will have an expected 90 days to prepare and submit a full H-1B visa petition for their employees.
EG: What information are employers required to provide when submitting an electronic registration on behalf of their employees?
CIP: To electronically register, USCIS requires information on both the sponsoring employer and foreign national. For the employer, this includes the company name, mailing address, federal identification number, and employer's authorized representative, name, job title and contact information.
Employers must supply the following information about each beneficiary:
- Full legal name
- Date of birth
- Country of birth
- Country of citizenship
- Passport number
- Whether the beneficiary is eligible for the U.S. advanced-degree cap at the time an H-1B cap petition is filed.
If there is an attorney assisting with the registration, USCIS must also receive their information.
EG: How will USCIS notify employers that their employees were selected in the lottery?
CIP: For this year’s cap, USCIS intends to notify employers and their representatives of selected registrations via their USCIS online accounts no later than March 31, 2021. In addition, USCIS will communicate to employers if an employee was ineligible to file a petition based on their registration, if the registration was denied, or if a registration was submitted but the payment method was declined, not reconciled, or otherwise invalid.
EG: How can employers prepare for electronic registration?
CIP: While electronic registration might seem simpler than the former process, the H-1B visa petition itself remains the same. In addition, USCIS has indicated that they can investigate and sanction companies that submit registrations for unqualified employees. As a result, it's still critical to ensure that all H-1B cases are properly vetted and analyzed well before registration. Responsible employers should make sure that every foreign national they plan to sponsor is qualified, and that there are no better visa options available for them.
Under the electronic registration system, selected petitions will be adjudicated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Employers should work with their counsel to fully review each sponsorship and to strategize how to best submit petitions in a timely manner, to minimize the risk of any start date delays or work authorization disruptions that could impact the business and foreign nationals.
EG: Are there any other risks employers should be aware of?
CIP: In addition to potential delays, sanctions and Requests for Evidence (RFEs), USCIS has indicated that if multiple registrations were submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for the same beneficiary, it will deny all registrations submitted for the beneficiary in question for the current fiscal year.
For a more in-depth look at electronic registration, as well as H-1B eligibility requirements and petition practice pointers, download The Employer’s Guide to H-1B Cap Season. Interested in learning how Envoy can streamline the work authorization process for your sponsored talent? Contact us today.
Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Catherine Gillespie, who is a Supervising Attorney at Corporate Immigration Partners, LLP (www.corporateimmigrationpartners.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.