On January 28, 2022 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the initial registration period for the fiscal year 2023 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern on March 1, and run through noon Eastern on March 18, 2022. During this period, prospective H-1B petitioners and their attorneys/representatives will have an opportunity to complete and submit their H-1B registrations using USCIS’ online H-1B registration system at https://my.uscis.gov/.
As background, the H-1B program allows U.S. companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. Congress has set a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year. An advanced degree exemption from the H-1B cap is available for 20,000 beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education. Each year, USCIS monitors the number of petitions received during the designated filing period and notifies the public when the H-1B numerical allocations have been met.
New, prospective H-1B petitioners will able, from February 21, 2022, to create H-1B “registrant” accounts through the MyUSCIS portal at https://my.uscis.gov/ selecting “I am an H-1B registrant” when creating the account. Both representatives and registrants must wait until March 1 at noon Eastern to enter beneficiary information, submit registrations, and pay the $10 non-refundable registration fee for each beneficiary. This fee will be collected via the Pay.gov portal and can be made from a bank checking or savings account or a credit or debit card. It is not possible to pay the registration fee using money orders, certified checks or cash.
The registration form requests basic information about the prospective H-1B petitioner and beneficiary such as:
- Company’s legal name
- Company’s Doing Business As (dba) name(s) if applicable
- Company’s employer identification number (EIN)
- Company’s primary U.S. office address
- The legal name, title, and contact information (daytime phone number and email address) of the company’s authorized signatory
- Beneficiary’s legal name
- Beneficiary’s gender
- Beneficiary’s date of birth
- Whether the prospective H-1B petitioner is requesting consideration under the Master’s cap because the beneficiary has already earned or will earn a Master’s degree from a U.S. institution of higher education prior to the filing of the H-1B petition
- Beneficiary’s country of birth
- Beneficiary’s country of citizenship
- Beneficiary’s passport number
During the registration period, representatives and registrants can review and edit the registrations of beneficiaries as many times as needed before the registration is actually submitted. Once the registration has been submitted, USCIS will assign a confirmation number to each registration. However, this number is used solely to track registrations and cannot be used to track case status. If necessary, any time prior to the close of the registration period, a registration containing an error may be deleted and resubmitted.
Selections will take place only after the initial registration period closes, so there is no requirement to register specifically on March 1. If USCIS receives enough registrations by March 18, the agency will randomly select registrations and send selection notifications via users’ USCIS online accounts. USCIS intends to notify account holders by March 31, 2022. An H-1B cap-subject petition may only be filed by an H-1B petitioner whose registration for that beneficiary was selected in the H-1B registration process. The petitioner must include a copy of the selection notice with the H-1B filing. The filing period for submitting H-1B petitions begins on April 1, 2022, and will end no earlier than June 30, 2022. USCIS will not accept late filings.
It is important that employers assess hiring needs to determine now whether any prospective employees will require H-1B sponsorship. Also, before submitting any registration, it is advisable to conduct a complete evaluation of any potential H-1B petition. Not only would this determine the prospective beneficiary’s eligibility for the H-1B but, there are also specific strategic decisions that may need to be made such as determining whether or not to file the Labor Condition Application (LCA) for the H-1B cap petition prior to receiving notification of selection from USCIS. Having a certified LCA would allow the H-1B petitioner to more quickly file the H-1B cap subject petition, a timeline that could be very important if the beneficiary is the holder of an F-1 visa with authorized Optional Practical Training (OPT) set to expire in early April 2022. H-1B cap-gap benefits only attach upon the timely filing of the H-1B cap petition and not upon the submission of the H-1B registration. It would make sense for a potential H-1B petitioner to have the LCA ready so as to be able to file the H-1B cap petition prior to the expiration of the beneficiary’s OPT which filing would extend the beneficiary’s duration of status and employment authorization until September 30, 2022 unless the H-1B petition is ultimately rejected, denied, revoked or withdrawn prior to this date.
It is expected that, once again, the demand for H-1B visas will exceed the number of visas available. But, to quote a very popular phrase, “You’ve got to be in it to win it.”