USCIS has just announced that the initial registration period for the Cap Subject FY 2022 H-1B Visas will open at noon Eastern Time (ET) on March 9, 2021, and run through noon ET on March 25, 2021. Representatives and registrants must wait until March 9 to create and submit H-1B registrations. Last year, for the first time, USCIS implemented this electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to submit H-1B cap-subject petitions.
The H-1B Registration Process
The H-1B cap registration will take place from March 9 through March 25, with the registration lottery conducted by the first week of April. Employers seeking to file FY 2022 H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay a small associated fee for each electronic registration they submit to USCIS. Under this process, which is similar to last year’s, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration that will require basic information about their company and each requested worker. USCIS will run a random selection on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for FY 2022. Once the lottery winners have been announced, they will have 90 days to file their full H-1B petitions.
H-1B Cap Process Background
The H-1B is available to employers seeking to hire a foreign national worker with at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a relevant field for a position that requires a degree in the field, also known as a specialty occupation. The employee must also be paid the prevailing rate of pay for the occupation. Under the rules, 65,000 new H-1B’s are issued each fiscal year, which begins on October 1, with an additional 20,000 for graduates of U.S. master’s degree programs. USCIS has historically accepted applications for cap subject petitions beginning on April 1. In recent years, the H-1B cap was reached very quickly, resulting in a lottery, which was a random selection process of the H-1B applications received to determine which applications were assigned an H-1B cap number and adjudicated. Some years as many as three times the applications were received as there were spots available.
Last year, instead of requiring petitioners to fully prepare all H-1B applications only to see which are chosen in the lottery, USCIS utilized a new registration process in which it randomly selected a sufficient number of registrations to meet the cap. Employers or their representatives then became eligible to file the full H-1B cap petitions with a start date of October 1, 2020. Registrants were only allowed to submit one registration per beneficiary in any fiscal year.
The USCIS registration process was by and large successful. it saved employers time and money, creating a far more reasonable and efficient H-1B cap filing system. When the initial registrations chosen did not yield enough H-1B petitions to meet the quota, USCIS drew more registrations and announced further applicants eligible to apply.
How Should an Employer Prepare for the 2022 H-1B Season?
Employers should contact us as soon as possible with information about the employees it will be filing for. We will prepare the registration forms as soon as possible to be submitted on the applicable date and prepare the entire H-1B petition after the lottery is conducted and the case is chosen. We will need specific information about each employee to be registered, including job title, duties and proposed salary, as well as biographical information. It is essential that we determine H-1B eligibility before filing. We will send a detailed registration checklist for each employee.
Identifying Candidates Who Need H-1B Sponsorship
The H-1B cap applies in most situations to new H-1B petitions for foreign workers who have not had H-1B status before.
To avoid missing out on filing an H-1B petition under the FY 2022, it is important to identify candidates who need sponsorship and are in professional positions. Some of the candidates may already be currently employed and working under temporary work authorization. Below are examples of cases where an employee or job candidate may need H-1B sponsorship:
- Students who are working under Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and will need H-1B sponsorship to be eligible to be employed in the U.S. once their OPT or CPT expires.
- Candidates currently in H-1B status with an H-1B cap exempt employer (institutions of higher education or a related or affiliated non-profit entity, nonprofit research organizations, or governmental research organizations) who are seeking employment opportunities with cap subject employers.
- Candidates who are in other nonimmigrant work status such as TN, H-3, H-2, O-1 and J-1 but need to change their status to H-1B.
Please contact us soon if you would like our assistance in registering, preparing and filing a cap-subject H-1B petition. We strongly recommend starting the H-1B application process as soon as possible and no later than March 1, 2021.