US announces E-registration for H-1B visa applicants

Giving good news to the applicants, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has announced e-registration for H1B visa applicants. The new process will begin from 2020-21 (which means the earliest a selected employee can commence work in the US is October 2020). Hereafter, companies sponsoring employees for the H-1B cap visa will have to register electronically, giving basic details of their company and the employee concerned. Registration will be open from March 1 to March 20, in the next calendar year. Sponsoring companies will have to pay a non-refundable registration fee of $10 per registration.

As step 2, the random selection process ( the lottery) will be run on these electronic registrations. Companies will have to file H-1B visa applications with the exhaustive documentation, only on in respect of the selected registrations. A limited period window, which is likely to start from April 1, will be opened for filing the visa applications. The annual quota of 85,000 for H-1B cap visas remains unchanged (this includes the Masters cap quota of 20,000 for which only those with advanced US educational degrees are eligible). In other words, sponsoring employers would be saved from the current process of having to file extensive documentation for all applications at the very onset, just for entry into the lottery. The documentation is exhaustive, especially for IT service companies who place their H-1B employees at client sites.

A statement from USCIS released Saturday morning stated: “By streamlining the H-1B cap selection process with a new electronic registration system, USCIS is creating cost savings and efficiencies for petitioners and the agency, as only those selected will now be required to submit a full petition.” USCIS had earlier pegged the savings to be in the range of $42.4 million to $66.5 million per year for sponsoring employers and for the agency.

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