DHS Announces Changes to H-1B CAP Program Including New Lottery Methodology

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On January 30, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule amending the way the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts the annual H-1B cap lottery.

This rule reverses the order by which USCIS selects H-1B cap petitions. Effective April 1, 2019, USCIS will now count all H-1B applicants, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption, towards the 65,000 H-1B cap first. Once that number is reached, USCIS will then select applicants towards the 20,000 advanced degree exemption. 

According to USCIS, this change will lead to a 16% increase in the number of cases selected for individuals with a U.S. Master’s Degree or higher. The USCIS is proposing a new electronic registration system for H-1B cap cases, as well; however, this electronic registration requirement is suspended for the upcoming H-1B cap season. According to USCIS, once implemented, the electronic registration requirement will require companies seeking to file H-1B cap petitions to electronically register with USCIS first during a designated registration period.

Only those companies whose electronic registrations are selected will be able to file an H-1B cap petition. USCIS expects that the implementation of the electronic registration requirement “will reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process for USCIS and petitioners.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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