Click here to read the full Client Advisory by Steptoe.

On December 6, 2019, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed that it would implement a system-wide process overhaul aimed at addressing issues and inefficiencies with the “H-1B cap season.” At the foundation of these changes, effective as of this writing, is a newly-created, yet-to-be-fully-revealed electronic registration process. While many questions remain, the H-1B cap process has clearly changed—including the deadline.

As explained in the Client Advisory, lottery registration is a deceptively simple process—on the surface, it involves a few pieces of fairly standard data. Below the surface, however, there are attestations under penalty of perjury and penalties for abusing the new system. Employers must understand their commitments and the related implications before hitting “submit” on H-1B registrations.

What should employers do now?

The upcoming Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) H-1B registration window runs from March 1 to March 20, 2020. With registration slated to begin soon, employers need to identify their H-1B cap registration needs. They must consider which of their current employees they hope to sponsor for first-time H-1B status and whether they will need to make registrations for any prospective employees.

As the registration process is new, there is a learning curve on all sides and an evolution of available information. Historically, online system roll-outs involve technical challenges, including system outages. Thus, while there is still time to gather what is needed, it is best to be prepared for registration early in the process and to factor in the time needed to engage in case evaluation and selection.

For more information about this change, click here to read the full Client Advisory.