On March 1, 2020, a new registration system announced more than a year ago will take effect for employers hoping to obtain H-1B visas for temporary professional level staff.
Many employers in the U.S. seek H-1B temporary worker visas to employ highly educated and skilled professionals. Often these are individuals who have received their educations at U.S. universities and may already have worked for their petitioning employer through “optional practical training” during or immediately after completion of their undergraduate or graduate degrees.
Most positions are subject to a statutory cap of 65,000 H-1B visas, plus another 20,000 H-1B visas for individuals who have attained masters, or higher, degrees.
In the past, filing petitions with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun on April 1st of each year for positions starting during the next fiscal year. For several years now, the cap has been reached within 5 days of April 1st, with demand for the visas far outstripping supply.
To prevent employers from investing the time and expense of preparing detailed H-1B visa petitions only to be shut out by the cap’s exhaustion, this year, employers must “register” their intention to file for H-1B visas between March 1 and March 20, 2020. If registrations for H-1B positions exceed the visa cap, registered employers not making it under the cap will be informed so that they can avoid continuing on with preparing the visa petitions.
The new process will not diminish the hardship to employers who cannot get H-1B visas for talented employees if they are shut out by the low visa cap. But at least it could lessen the amount of salt in the wound by allowing employers to avoid expending the time and funds required to prepare the full H-1B visa petition.
You can read more details about the new process here.
The fundamental reality is that the H-1B cap does not reflect the demands of today’s economy. Decades ago, there was no cap, and market forces determined the number of H-1B visas granted each year. It’s time to seriously consider returning to that system.