With the H-1B electronic registration process kicking off at 12:00 pm EST on March 1, 2022, it is now time for both employers and prospective H-1B visa holders to get ready for this year (fiscal year 2023)’s H-1B season.
As well, the Department of Homeland Security has recently issued several important new updates that will benefit graduates in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields and entrepreneurs who wish to live and work in the United States with a visa or green card. These announcements are in connection with the Biden-Harris administration’s initiative to attract and retain STEM talent in the United States. Please read on for details.
- H-1B Cap Electronic Registration begins on March 1, 2022 – Now Is the Time to Prepare!
Today, January 28, 2022, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the initial electronic registration period for the fiscal year 2023 H-1B cap will begin at 12:00 pm EST on March 1, 2022, and continue through 12:00 pm EST on March 18, 2022. During this time, potential H-1B employers can complete and submit electronic registrations on behalf of prospective H-1B workers via USCIS’s online registration system.
What is an H-1B visa?
The H-1B visa is an employment-based, nonimmigrant visa that allows an individual to stay and work in the US for up to 6 years, with extensions possible in certain cases. The H-1B visa petition is filed by an employer in the United States who seeks to employ a foreign worker in a “specialty occupation.” A specialty occupation is a job position that requires at least a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) in a specific field.
What is the H-1B “Cap?”
Under the current law, the number of H-1B visas made available each year is limited, or “capped,” at 65,000 “regular cap” visas, with 20,000 additional “master’s cap” visas for foreign-born professionals who graduate with a master’s degree or doctorate from a US college or university, for a total of 85,000 cap-subject visas. H-1B cap-subject petitions can be filed on behalf of someone who is already in the US in another valid nonimmigrant status, such as F-1 student status or H-4 dependent, as well as on behalf of people outside of the US. These 85,000 “cap-subject” H-1B visas can only be filed based on the timeline discussed in this article.
What is the process for seeking an H-1B visa this year?
United States employers and their attorneys must create an online account on USCIS’s “myUSCIS” system to complete H-1B electronic registrations. USCIS has stated that employers may create new online accounts starting at 12:00 pm EST on February 21, 2022.
Pursuant to today’s announcement, the H-1B electronic registration period will begin at 12:00 pm EST on March 1, 2022, and continue through 12:00 pm EST on March 18, 2022. During this period, employers can file online electronic registrations on behalf of each noncitizen that they intend to sponsor for an H-1B visa. There is a $10 fee for each electronic registration. Only the US employer, not the prospective H-1B worker, can file the electronic registration.
If the number of electronic registrations submitted by employers exceeds the number of H-1B visas available under the annual quota, which is very likely to happen, then USCIS will randomly select electronic registration entries until the projected “cap” for the year is reached.
UCSCIS has state that it plans to notify employers which electronic registrations were selected through their myUSCIS accounts by March 31, 2022. Employers will then have 90 days during which to file an H-1B petition for each electronic registration that was selected by USCIS. The H-1B filing period is expected to begin on April 1, 2022. An employer may only file an H-1B petition on behalf of a specific noncitizen if that employer submitted an electronic registration on behalf of the noncitizen that was selected by USCIS during the electronic registration process.
It is possible that USCIS will conduct one or more additional random selections of H-1B electronic registrations if the agency has not received enough H-1B petitions to reach the annual limit by the end of the first H-1B filing period.
For H-1B petitions that are approved under the annual cap, the earliest day that H-1B status can begin is October 1, 2022.
What do I need to do now to prepare for the H-1B electronic registration process?
Right now, employers should identify which individuals they intend to file H-1B electronic registrations for starting March 1, 2022, and gather the information needed for the electronic registration. Luckily, the information needed to submit an electronic registration relatively limited. Based on prior years’ electronic registration forms, the information required for each electronic registration will be as follows:
Information needed from the Petitioner (the prospective H-1B employer)
- The legal name and “Doing Business As” name, if any, of the Petitioner;
- The Petitioner’s Employer Identification Number (EIN);
- The Petitioner’s US address; and
- The name, title, and contact information (daytime phone number and email address) of the person who will sign the electronic registration on behalf of the Petitioner.
Information needed from the Beneficiary (the prospective H-1B employee)
- The Beneficiary’s legal name;
- The Beneficiary’s gender;
- The Beneficiary’s date of birth;
- Whether the Petitioner will seek to sponsor the Beneficiary under the “master’s cap” (if the Beneficiary has earned, or will prior to the filing of the H-1B petition, a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education);
- The Beneficiary’s country of birth;
- The Beneficiary’s country of citizenship; and
- The Beneficiary’s passport number.
We would advise that employers organize the above information as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute problems when the H-1B electronic registration period begins in March.
Written by Joseph Fungsang, an immigration attorney and partner-in-charge of the New York City office of Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC. The above text is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.