U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released a final rule amending the regulations governing its H-1B visa lottery for skilled temporary foreign workers.

The final rule reverses the order in which petitions are selected for the H-1B visa lottery to increase the number of visas awarded to workers with a master's degree or higher from a U.S. college or university.

The H-1B visa lottery has 65,000 visa positions available annually and an additional 20,000 for workers holding advanced degrees.

The new rule also introduces an electronic preregistration requirement for employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, but that requirement will be suspended for the fiscal 2020 cap season to complete user testing and ensure the system and process are fully functional.

Once the requirement takes effect, employers seeking to file H-1B cap petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption, will have to first electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period.

Only those whose registrations are selected will be eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition.

USCIS expects that shifting to electronic registration would reduce overall costs for employers and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process for the agency.

Selection Process Reversed

USCIS will first select H-1B petitions (or registrations, once the registration requirement is implemented) submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption.

The agency will then select from the remaining eligible petitions, a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption.

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for fiscal 2020 on April 1, 2019.
USCIS estimates that changing the order in which it counts these allocations will likely result in an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected petitions for H-1B beneficiaries with advanced degrees.

The agency will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for fiscal 2020 on April 1, 2019. The reverse selection order will apply to petitions filed for the FY 2020 H-1B cap season.

Petitioners may file an H-1B petition no more than six months before the employment start date requested for the beneficiary.

USCIS will provide online H-1B cap filing instructions prior to the filing season.


Register today for CBIA's 2019 Human Resources Conference, March 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell.