USCIS Publishes Final H-1B Rule

By Attorney Michele Strickland

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its final rule amending regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption on January 31, 2019. The final rule reverses the order by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption, and it introduces an electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap- subject petitions. The rule will go into effect on  April 1, 2019.  The electronic registration requirement will be suspended for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season.

Reversal of Order of the Lottery

Two lotteries are conducted under the H-1B cap. Previously, the lottery for advanced U.S. degree holders was conducted first followed by the regular H-1B lottery. Under the new rule, the order of selection would be reversed. All registrations towards the regular H-1B cap will be counted. Once the registrations reach this cap, USCIS will then conduct the advanced degree lottery. USCIS believes that reversing this order will result in an estimated increase of 16% in the number of H-1B approvals for those holding advanced U.S. degrees.

Electronic Registration

Under the new rule, employers will be required to register electronically with USCIS during a designated, 15-day registration period. Following lottery selection, employers will then be directed to file petitions within a designated period of no less than 60 days. USCIS expects pre-registration to alleviate the burden of receiving hundreds of thousands of petitions and support documentation for cases that ultimately will not be selected in the lottery.  This change will not go into effect until next year.

Reversal of Order of the Lottery

If you are interested in learning more about H-1B visas and sponsorship, feel free to contact our office at 713-589-2085 or email us at [email protected] to set up a consultation.

Attorney Michele Strickland focuses her practice on small to mid-size companies and higher education, including multi-national corporations, investors, national interest waivers and individuals with extraordinary ability in their field.

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