U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is set to take a big first step toward the implementation of its new electronic registration system for fiscal year (FY) 2021 H-1B cap cases (those subject to the annual quota). Beginning February 24, 2020, USCIS will allow employers to access the system to create H-1B registrant accounts. Employers must set up registrant accounts in order to participate in the H-1B selection lottery that will take place at the end of March 2020.

USCIS has been slow to release details about how the new registration system will work in practice. This article provides a summary of what we know so far.

Dates to Remember

February 24 Employers can create H-1B registrant accounts with myUSCIS.gov.
March 1 The online registration period for FY 2021 H-1B cap cases opens at 12:00 noon eastern standard time (EST). This will be the first day that attorneys and employers are able to access the H-1B registration tool to register their candidates.
March 20 The online registration period will close at 12:00 p.m. EST. All electronic registrations must be submitted with registration fees paid.
March 20–31 USCIS will conduct the H-1B regular cap and master’s cap lotteries.
March 31 USCIS will notify employers and their representatives about lottery results, which can be accessed via myUSCIS.gov.
April 1–June 30 The filing period for selected H-1B petitions opens and will run for 90 days.

Employers must submit their H-1B cap petitions via hard copy to the designated USCIS service center indicated on the H-1B beneficiary’s selection notification.

Employers must submit their H-1B cap petitions via hard copy to the designated USCIS service center indicated on the H-1B beneficiary’s selection notification.

Employer Registrant Accounts

Employers intending to file H-1B cap petitions must set up H-1B registrant accounts at myUSCIS.gov. This is true even for employers represented by attorneys who will submit the H‑1B electronic registrations on their behalf. If an employer is represented by an attorney, the attorney will provide the employer a passcode to link the employer’s account to the attorney’s account.

Employers must review and approve all beneficiary registrations through their online accounts. All errors must be corrected before the registrations are submitted to USCIS. Once an employer verifies its registered beneficiaries (and electronically signs a Form G-28 representation agreement for those represented by counsel), it can then finalize and submit the cap registrations for selection in the H-1B lottery. As a reminder, USCIS will charge a $10 registration fee per registered beneficiary.

Please note that each entity requires a unique email address and a separate myUSCIS.gov registrant account. However, the same signatory may be named for multiple entities if authorized to sign on behalf of those entities.

Additional H-1B Registration Details

  • Employers may submit only one registration per H-1B cap beneficiary or USCIS will cancel and reject the registration, resulting in the loss of FY 2021 H-1B quota lottery eligibility.
  • Employers or their representatives may submit as many as 250 beneficiary registrations in one batch. They may submit as many batches and/or candidates as they would like.
  • Employers with large numbers of registered beneficiaries will have the opportunity to download a data file to review for duplicates and accuracy before approving or declining for final submission.
  • After the lottery is held, USCIS will change each beneficiary’s status (in the myUSCIS.gov system) to one of the following:
    • “Selected”: This means that the beneficiary has been selected to file a full H-1B petition. Employers or their representatives must print and include a copy of the selection notice with the petition to the USCIS service center indicated on the notice.
    • “Submitted”: This indicates that the registration was not selected in the lottery; however, USCIS will hold the registration until the end of the fiscal year in consideration for selection in the event that the quota is not met in its entirety.
    • “Denied (duplicated)”: This status indicates that USCIS has identified the registration as duplicate and ineligible for consideration in the selection process.

Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to the H-1B electronic registration system and will post updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.