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USCIS Will Publish Final Rule on Fiscal Year H-1B Registration on 1/31/2019; Registration Delayed For Upcoming Lottery

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USCIS Will Publish Final Rule on Fiscal Year H-1B Registration on 1/31/2019; Registration Delayed For Upcoming Lottery

January 30, 2019

The USCIS announced today that its Final Rule to update the H-1B lottery system will be published in the Federal Register on 1/31/2019.  

The Final Rule says that:

  • The USCIS will not immediately implement the pre-registration process
  • Starting this year, the USCIS will reverse the order of the lottery and hold the lottery for the 65,000 regular H-1B numbers first, followed by the U.S. Masters Degree lottery for 20,000 numbers, thereby increasing the number of U.S. Masters Degree beneficiaries

Delay of the electronic pre-registration process is good news for employers, as the details of how and when to pre-register were murky.  With just 3 months between now and April 1, the USCIS did not appear to have sufficient time to develop and test the technology required to conduct the electronic registration and process nearly 200,000 registrations at once. Last year, the USCIS received over 190,000 fiscal year H-1B petitions.

The USCIS has decided to suspend the pre-registration requirement until “such time that the system has been fully tested and modified to address concerns raised by commenters … {and} to ensure the public has sufficient preparation time to become familiar with and utilize the electronic registration system. USCIS will also conduct outreach and training on the new registration system.”

The Final Rule indicates that the USCIS will publish a notice in the Federal Register to announce when the H-1B registration process will take effect. Once implemented, USCIS will announce the start of the electronic registration period at least 30 days in advance.  For selected registrations, employers will be given 90 days (up from the 60 days in the Proposed Rule) to file the H-1B petitions. 

With today’s announcement, employers should proceed as in past years with identifying candidates, analyzing eligibility, filing Labor Condition Applications and finalizing the H-1B petitions for filing with the USCIS during the first few days of April. 

If you have any questions about the H-1B lottery process, please contact Weaver Schlenger. 

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