USCIS Seeks Public Comment on Proposed H-1B Registration System Fact Sheet
March 2, 2011
Advance Registration Process Would Reduce Costs for U.S. Businesses
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that could save U.S. businesses more than $23 million over the next 10 years, according to USCIS estimates. This proposed rule would establish an electronic registration process for U.S. employers seeking to file H-1B petitions for foreign workers in specialty occupations. The proposed electronic system would minimize administrative burdens and expenses related to the H-1B petition process—including reducing the need for employers to submit petitions for which visas would not be available under the statutory visa cap.
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa which allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. USCIS proposes to establish an advance, electronic registration process for U.S. employers seeking to file H-1B petitions subject to either the 65,000 statutory cap or the 20,000 statutory visa cap exemption. By statute, H-1B visas are subject to an annual numerical limit, or cap, of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions for these visas filed on behalf of individuals with U.S. master’s degrees or higher are exempt from this cap.
Under the proposed rule, USCIS would establish an advance registration system. USCIS would inform the public of the registration process for any given year on its website at www.uscis.gov. The proposed advance registration process would require employers seeking to petition for H-1B workers subject to the statutory visa cap to simply register electronically with USCIS—a process that would only take 30 minutes to complete. Before the petition filing period begins, USCIS would select the number of registrations estimated to exhaust all available visas. Employers would then file petitions only for the selected registrations. The registration system would save employers the currently imposed effort and expense of submitting H-1B petitions, as well as Labor Condition Applications (LCA), for workers who would be unable to obtain visas under the statutory cap.
Questions & Answers
Q1. Why is USCIS proposing a change to the H-1B filing process?
The current process requires U.S. employers to first obtain an LCA from the U.S. Department of Labor. Upon certification of the LCA, the employer may then file an H-1B petition with USCIS on Form I-129 (Petition for an Alien Worker). USCIS may only accept the properly filed H-1B petition if the statutory cap has not been reached.
Q2. Will the proposed advance registration process go into effect right away?
Q3. How would this advance registration impact the processing time for H-1B petitions?
Q4. What is the estimated financial impact of this proposed rule for businesses?
Q5. When could USCIS use this advance registration process?
Q6. How may I provide comments on the proposed registration process?