The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is making steps towards creating a pre-registration system for the H-1B cap selection process, as well as other changes to the entire H-1B cap system.

At this time, the draft regulation has been sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, which is the first step toward revising or changing the H-1B cap process. Although the details of the proposal is confidential, it is entirely possible that USCIS has made proposals similar to what was made in 2011. These proposals included:

  • Initial pre-registration period for H-1B cap. Before being able to register for the H-1B cap lottery, employers would need to file a form that provides information about the company, the job offer, and the prospective foreign employee. This pre-registration would occur prior to the opening day of the cap filing season (April 1).
  • Changes to cap selection lotteries. Currently, when USCIS receives H-1B caps beyond the quota, the standard and master’s cap H-1B petitions are run through selection lotteries until the annual H-1B quota is met. USCIS may propose that no employers submit full H-1B petitions and supporting evidence unless their cases are selected in the pre-registration process. Cases that are selected would receive a brief petition filing period to submit a full H-1B petition and supporting evidence.
  • Waiting list. USCIS may propose the creation of a waiting list. This would enable additional cases to be filed if the quota is not reached due to rejections or withdrawals of petitions, or in the event that an employer decides to file a petition after their pre-registration was selected.

These changes can only be implemented after they are approved and finalized, which may take several months. It is not yet clear whether pre-registration will be implemented for the FY 2020 cap filing season beginning on April 1, 2019. Employers are recommended to work on H-1B cap preparation in advance in the event that these changes are implemented for the FY 2020 cap filing season.

Our offices will keep you apprised of any further information about the H-1B cap proposals. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.