We’re very excited to better understand how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is shaping the H-1B lottery for the future, starting next year. It published two different proposals for the pre-registration process for employers planning to submit petitions in the next H-1B lottery.
This year, USCIS changed the H-1B lottery process by requiring employers to electronically pre-register for the lottery. However, delays likely caused by the government shutdown this past winter, the new system hasn’t yet gone into effect.
For years, employers have always been required to submit a complete H-1B petition to be considered in the lottery. This is a large investment of time and money, especially for small companies. The new system of pre-registration would reduce the overhead costs for H-1Bs, which will be particularly transformative for startups.
Under the new proposals, employers would be required to pre-register candidates to participate in the electronic lottery. Only if selected would those employers submit completed H-1B petitions.
The proposals published last week in the Federal Register would revise the electronic H-1B Registration Tool and the USCIS Identity and Credential Access Management (ICAM) system. ICAM, which grants access to myUSCIS for online account creation and filing, will be the portal employers or their legal counsel will use to register for the H-1B lottery.
USCIS is accepting public comments on both proposals through Aug 26, 2019. We urge you to provide feedback to USCIS on these proposals so we can participate in shaping the final system
Under the proposal, first-time users must establish an account through the USCIS ICAM portal to register. To set up an account, a user must:
- Submit a valid email address.
- Create a password.
- Select a preference for receiving a one-time password either via email or text message on a mobile phone.
- Choose five password reset questions and responses.
- Select either a customer or legal representative account.
USCIS estimates each account takes less than 10 minutes to set up.
Using the data collected on the electronic H-1B Registration Tool, USCIS will determine which employers can submit an H-1B petition for a beneficiary. USCIS estimates employers will take about half an hour to submit the data for each beneficiary. USCIS anticipates employers will submit information for nearly 193,000 H-1B beneficiaries.
We’re excited to see how this will transform the landscape for employers. Working with a lot of startups in Silicon Valley, we see that it is often cost-prohibitive for small technology companies at the seed stage to sponsor H-1Bs for critical personnel. It will also be interesting to see how many beneficiaries will try to get multiple sponsorships from various employers to increase their chances in the system. I predict that many more than 193,000 H-1B beneficiaries will participate in next year’s lottery because of the inconsequential application cost.
It remains to be seen what additional data if any will be collected from the online H-1B Registration Tool and when the registration period will begin.
Check back on the Alcorn Immigration Law Blog Page for more details on pre-registering for the H-1B lottery and other H-1B developments. It’s never too early to begin planning for the H-1B lottery and formulating backup plans—or even alternative, better strategies. Reach out to us if we can help.