The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency will implement electronic registration for the H-1B visa lottery following successful tests.

The new registration process is designed to cut paperwork and data exchange between applicants and the agency while saving employers money.

Employers wanting to file H-1B cap petitions for fiscal 2021 must first register electronically and pay a $10 registration fee. This includes employees eligible for the advanced-degree exemption.

Under the new process, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration process that requires only basic information about their company and each requested worker.

The initial registration period will be March 1 through 20, but if a random selection process is needed, it will be run on those electronic registrations.

"Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions," the agency said in a press release.


USCIS said the previous registration involved bulky petitions and a random selection process that created unnecessary paperwork and postage costs for applicants and the agency.

"By streamlining the H-1B cap selection process with a new electronic registration system, USCIS is creating cost savings and efficiencies for petitioners and the agency, as only those selected will now be required to submit a full petition," said deputy director Mark Koumans.

"The agency completed a successful pilot testing phase, which included sessions with industry representatives, and implementation of the registration system will further the goal of modernizing USCIS from a paper-based to an online-filing agency."

Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

As the initial registration period approaches, the agency will post instructions for completing the registration process as well as key dates and deadlines.

USCIS will also take steps, including public outreach, to ensure applicants and other interested parties understand the new system.

If the agency does not receive enough registrations, it may continue accepting registrations or schedule another registration period.

Final Rule

The final rule on the new H-1B registration requirement was published Jan. 31, 2019 and took effect April 1, 2019.

In the coming weeks, the government will publish a notice in the Federal Register to formally announce the new registration system and provide more details.

The H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in occupations that require specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or the equivalent in work experience.

The visa is for three years but can be extended to six. The government limits how many visas are issued annually.

Rejections of first time applicants went from 10% in 2016 to 24% in 2019.