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  • Sterling Marita

Changes to H-1B filing process – Action required March 1, 2020

A new addition to the registration process for FY 2021 H-1B visa applicants will impact visa availability to Israeli Nationals.


Background: The H-1B is a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa category that allows employers to petition for highly educated foreign professionals to work in “specialty occupations” that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. . Jobs in fields such as mathematics, engineering, and technology often qualify. For Israeli applicants specifically, the H-1B visa remains a good option for those who have a job offer from a U.S. company for which they have not been employed by previously.


The Old System: Congress limits the number of H-1Bs made available each year to 65,000 visas, with 20,000 additional visas for foreign professionals who graduate with a master’s degree or doctorate from a U.S. academic institution. In the last several years USCIS received a greater number of petitions than there are visa numbers available, and a lottery was conducted.


The New Registration System: The system will require employers seeking to file H-1B cap petitions to electronically register with a USCIS lottery system from March 1-20, 2020; selected cases may begin submitting starting April 1. The employer will need to provide basic information during the designated period and pay a nonrefundable $10 fee for each individual applicant. Once the registration period ends, USCIS will conduct a lottery and only those prospective H-1B applicants whose registrations are selected will be eligible to file a petition. It’s important to note that this change will not affect H-1B transfers between employers or extension of status applications.


USCIS proposes each applicant will have at least 60 days to file their petition which will likely minimize backlogs and increase turnaround times. An additional bonus for both employees and employers is that this system is expected to provide some currently-lacking stability and help save time, money, and other resources.


As an employer, you should know:

  • All H-1B applicants must now enter into an electronic lottery system, prior to filing a cap-subject petition for that candidate, with a $10 non-refundable fee.

  • Each beneficiary will need their own entry and will be limited to one registration per beneficiary for the same fiscal year.

  • We recommend you begin determining your FY 2021 H-1B cap visa needs and identity any current or potential employees who may benefit from H-1B status.

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