The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a notice of proposed rulemaking which allows for public comment beginning today, December 3, 2018 until Wednesday, January 2, 2019.
This proposed rulemaking arises from President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American Executive Order” which instructed DHS to propose new rules and guidance to protect the interests of U.S. workers in the administration of the immigration system. The order specifically mentioned the H-1B program.
This proposal would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to first electronically register with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period. Once more than enough petitions had been received to reach the congressionally mandated H-1B cap, USCIS would then conduct its lottery, a computer-generated random selection process. In conducting its lottery, USCIS would reverse its selection order to allow for the first selections to be made from the H-1B cap and then proceed to the advanced degree selection. USCIS is expecting that this would increase the number of beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution and introduce a more meritorious selection of beneficiaries. It also expects that the shift to electronic registration would reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost effective process for USCIS. As USCIS would no longer receive and handle H-IB petitions and supporting documents prior to conducting the selection process, the wait times for cap selections would be reduced. The new rule would also limit the filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions to the beneficiary named on the original selected registration.
USCIS is actively working to develop and test the electronic registration system for the FY 2020 (April 2019 submissions) cap selection process. However, if the requisite testing and vetting is insufficient for that deadline then the registration requirement may be suspended for FY 2020 (April 2019 submissions).
NOTE – This is proposed law and is still in the comment period. Therefore, until the law is finalized and implemented, the H-1B cap selection process will remain the same in April 2019. We will continue to provide updates.