Now is the time to start preparing H-1B petitions for consideration in the 2020 H-1B lottery. The USCIS has changed its H-1B lottery system and will now run an electronic lottery prior to the submission of physical H-1B Petitions.

As background, the demand for new H-1Bs always exceeds the limited supply. Since 2014, the quota has been filled within the first week and an H-1B lottery established. In recent years, more than 200,000 petitions were received for the 85,000 H-1B visas available.

New This Year

Here are a few key takeaways regarding the new USCIS H-1B Cap protocol:

  • The initial H-1B petition registration period will begin on March 1, 2020, and will tentatively close on 20 March 2020. The USCIS may close the registration period prior to 20 March 2020.
  • Employers (or authorized representatives) must register using an online account. Information regarding how to register will be provided by USCIS on its website.
  • Employers may start setting up their registration accounts in advance of the registration period opening (though this feature is not yet available).
  • A separate registration request must be made for each individual for whom H-1B status is sought.
  • USCIS will send notices to all registrants with selected registrations who are eligible to file an H-1B Cap Petition and intends to do so by 31 March 2020.
  • If a beneficiary is selected under the lottery, the employer will receive a 90-day window to file the H-1B Cap Petition.

Actions to Take

While the USCIS must still provide additional information regarding the new system, one thing is clear: all potential H-1B cap beneficiaries should be identified as early as possible to ensure participation in the electronic preregistration lottery. Now is the time to:

  • Identify the potential H-1B beneficiaries within your company.
  • Prepare job descriptions.
  • Organize wage and compensation information.
  • Collect academic documents and, where appropriate, secure translations and evaluations of education/experience. 
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