December 3, 2018
On November 30, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to register electronically with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period. Under the proposed rule, USCIS would also reverse the order by which the agency selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption.
Electronic Registration Process
Under the proposed regulation, petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions would be required to register electronically with USCIS during a designated registration period. The electronic registration period would begin at least 14 calendar days before the first date the H-1B filing window opens each fiscal year, commonly April 1, and would remain open for at least 14 calendar days. USCIS would give at least 30 calendar days’ notice of the registration period on the USCIS website.
USCIS would then conduct the annual H-1B lottery from the pool of timely-filed electronic registrants. The rule proposes that petitioners whose petitions are selected will be notified that they are eligible to file an H-1B petition within a designated filing period. The duration of the filing period for registrants who are selected would be at least 60 days. According to the proposal, a registrant therefore could wait until they have been notified of selection before submitting the corresponding H-1B petition on behalf of the beneficiary named in the selected registration. USCIS would hold some unselected H-1B registrations in reserve so that additional cases could be filed if the quota is not reached due to petition rejections, denials or withdrawals, or if an employer does not file an H-1B petition on behalf of selected beneficiary. USCIS could reopen registrations if more cases are needed to fulfill the annual quota.
The registration process would require basic information from both the employer and the beneficiary, including:
- the employer’s name, identification number (EIN), and address;
- the employer’s authorized representative’s name, job title, and contact information;
- the beneficiary’s name, date of birth, country of birth, country of citizenship, gender, and passport number, as well as whether the beneficiary has obtained a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education;
- the employer’s attorney or accredited representative, if applicable; and
- any additional basic information requested by the registration system or USCIS.
Employers would also be required to attest that they intend to file an H-1B petition for the beneficiary in the position for which the registration is filed, among other attestations.
Petitioners would need to file a separate registration for each beneficiary and would be limited to one registration per beneficiary for the same fiscal year. USCIS is not proposing to charge a fee for electronic registration at this time.
Allocation of H-1B Cap Numbers
The second major change proposed by DHS is to reverse the order by which the agency selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption. Currently, in years when the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption are both reached within the first five days in which H-1B cap petitions may be filed, the advanced degree exemption beneficiaries are selected before the H-1B cap beneficiaries.
The proposed rule would reverse the selection order and count all applicants towards the number projected as needed to reach the regular H-1B cap first. Once a sufficient number of applicants have been selected for the H-1B cap, USCIS would then select applicants towards the advanced degree exemption. USCIS projects that this change in the process would result in a 16% increase in the number of selected beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.
The proposed rule contains a severability clause which provides that DHS could continue to implement either the electronic registration system or the allocation process by which the agency would select H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advance degree exemption independently in the event it cannot implement the both together, for example, if one of the processes is enjoined or invalidated by a court.
Source: AILA Doc. No. 18111639.