Trump Administration Implements Major Changes to H-1B Lottery System

January 30, 2019 | Employment & Labor | Immigration

On January 31, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will publish a final rule changing the H-1B lottery system. The final rule implements the proposed two changes discussed earlier here.

According to the DHS announcement, “The final rule reverses the order by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption, and it introduces an electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 31, and will go into effect on April 1, though the electronic registration requirement will be suspended for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season.”

Under the new rule, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will first pool H-1B petitions submitted on behalf of all petitioners, including those that may be eligible separately under the advanced degree exemption, and select 65,000 petitions for the intitial cap.  Once the initial 65,000 person cap is met, the USCIS will then select, from among the remaining petitioners with advanced degrees, for the 20,000 person advanced degree cap.  DHS expects that “the change will result in an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected petitions for H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.”

The second change – electronic registration for the lottery – will be deferred until after the upcoming H-1B season. We will keep you apprised of changes as they are announced.

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