USCIS announces final changes to cap-subject H-1B visa petition processing

On January 30, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced a final rule effective April 1, 2019 that changes the way cap-subject H-1B petitions will be processed in two ways: first, petitioners seeking to file petitions will have to register electronically with USCIS during a designated registration period; and second, the order in which cap-subject petitions are selected in years when demand exceeds supply (i.e., when a lottery is required) has been reversed.  We discussed these changes in depth when they were proposed, in our December 3, 2018 blog post.

The electronic registration requirement will be suspended in the upcoming cap filing season to allow for system testing. However, the change to the order in which cap-subject petitions are selected will take effect. USCIS will first select H-1B petitions submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will then select, from the remaining eligible petitions, a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption. UCSIS predicts that this change will lead to an increase in the number of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s or higher degree selected.

We will post further updates as we learn more about the implementation of these changes: in particular, the electronic registration requirements for the H-1B cap season for fiscal year 2021, which will take place in the spring of 2020.