The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it has completed a successful pilot testing phase and is implementing the registration process in the next H-1B visa lottery.
The USCIS in a note said that employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for the fiscal year 2021 cap, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee.
The electronic registration process will dramatically streamline processing by reducing paperwork and data exchange, and will provide an overall cost savings to petitioning employers, the US agency said.
H-1B visa process
Historically, employers filed their full, and often voluminous, H-1B cap-subject petitions with USCIS, after which USCIS would select eligible petitions through a random selection process. This process resulted in unnecessary paperwork and incurred mailing costs for both petitioners and the agency.
Indian software companies being the largest need to note the changes.
H1B visa allows US companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupation. Software companies have been using this to the maximum. Indian software companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Cognizant have been the biggest sponsors of this H1B visas to their employees to work for various clients in the US.
There are over 4 lakh foreign nationals working in the US on H1B visas. Of this, nearly one fourth are Indians, say media reports.
New registration process
Under the new H1B process, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorised representatives, will complete a registration process that requires only basic information about their company and each requested worker.
USCIS will open an initial registration period from March 1 to March 20, 2020.
The H-1B random selection process, if needed, will then be run on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
USCIS will post step-by-step instructions informing registrants how to complete the registration process on its website along with key dates and timelines as the initial registration period nears. USCIS will also conduct public engagements and other outreach activities to ensure registrants and interested parties are familiar with the new registration system. The agency may determine it is necessary to continue accepting registrations, or open an additional registration period, if it does not receive enough registrations and subsequent petitions projected to reach the numerical allocations, the USCIS said.