Changes to the H-1B Registration Process

Erick Widman

USCIS has announced that the proposed new H-1B registration system will take effect on 1 March 1 2020. The new system will save employers’ time and money because it will inform them if their petition has been accepted in the H-1B lottery before they file the full application.

The registration period for new H-1B petitions will be open from March 1 to March 20, and the registration fee will be $10. USCIS has provided the following information about the new electronic pre-filing system:

  • During this initial registration period, prospective petitioners or their authorized representatives must electronically submit a separate registration naming each alien for whom they seek to file an H-1B cap-subject petition.
  • If a sufficient number of registrations are received, we will randomly select the number of registrations projected as needed to reach the H-1B numerical allocations after the initial registration period closes and no later than 31 March 2020.
  • Prospective petitioners with selected registrations will be eligible to file a cap-subject petition only for the alien named in the registration.

Additional details and instructions about the online registration system have not yet been posted. USCIS promises step-by-step instructions for navigating the new system but has not indicated how much time they will give applicants and their legal representatives to adjust to and prepare for the new procedure.

According to the official announcement, “The electronic registration process will dramatically streamline processing by reducing paperwork and data exchange, and will provide an overall cost savings to petitioning employers.” While employers have seen a drastic increase in denials and RFEs (Requests for Evidence) for H-1B petitions in recent years, this proposed new system should reduce some of the frustration that comes with preparing a full application and having it returned following the random selection period.

Even though there is now pre-registration for the H-1B, the small window for applications makes it a good idea to begin working on the full application before hearing back from USCIS. Applicants are encouraged to speak with an attorney to discuss a timeline.

Biden Administration Supports Significant Changes to H-1B Program

The Biden Administration’s first published regulatory agenda indicates substantive changes to the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers. On the one hand, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is planning to change the H-1B program by redefining the relationship between employer and employee, clarifying when USCIS must be notified about a change in H-1B employment, and establishing regulations for employer site visits. On the other hand, the Department of Labor (DOL) is going forward with a Trump-era proposal to enhance prevailing wages for the H-1B and PERM (employment-based green card visa) programs.

USCIS also aims to finalize a rule broadening premium processing to additional employment-based immigration categories and to establish new regulations to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was recently ruled illegal by a Fifth Circuit judge.

H-1B Wage Rule

A final rule increasing wages for workers with H-1B visas and employment-based green cards was scheduled to take effect on 14 Nov 2022. The rule was declared in January 2021 as one of the last regulatory actions taken by the Trump Administration. A federal court, however, vacated the regulation in June, with DOL consent. The agency is now expected to put forth a new prevailing wage regulation that incorporates the feedback received after a request for public comments conducted this spring. Publication of the proposal is slated for November.

DACA Preservation

The Biden Administration is seeking to codify a DACA-like program in the upcoming months, reflecting the president’s plan to protect the program after a federal judge in Texas ruled it to be unlawful. The DACA program safeguards young, undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation and awards them work authorization. The judge and other legal experts find that the executive branch does not have the power to grant mass reprieves to immigrants who are in the U.S. without authorization, so former President Obama exceeded his powers when he started the program in 2012 by executive action, bypassing Congress.

The district court ruling prevents the Biden Administration from approving new DACA applications, but the judge stayed the immediate effect on current DACA recipients, citing their longtime reliance on the program. Meanwhile, there are bills pending in Congress that seek a legislative solution for DACA applicants.
An H-1B immigration attorney can come in handy in tough situations during a visa application. They are most required when you are unfamiliar with the challenging application process or need to ensure that everything goes smoothly. While you may get through some stages yourself, an attorney will assist to simplify the process at crossroads.

Do you find the whole visa application and renewal process tasking? You are not alone. We at Passage Immigration Law have worked with many in our years of experience practicing immigration law. Take the burden off your shoulders and contact our immigration law firm right away to discuss your issues with us. We are always ready to assist. Passage Immigration Law has offices in Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, California, and Seattle, Washington. Call to schedule an appointment today at (503) 427-8243 or schedule a consultation here.

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