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Immigration Client Alert: Get Ready - H-1B Cap Season Is Here

February 2021

The annual H-1B cap season is upon us. Like last year, USCIS will be utilizing an online registration system which will serve as entry into the annual lottery.

The Process

Employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the annual numerical limitation or "cap" will complete an online registration process that will require collection of information about their company and each requested worker.

USCIS will open an initial registration period from March 9 through March 25, 2021. During this period, the electronic registration must be submitted by the employer or its authorized representative along with a $10 non-refundable registration fee for each H-1B registration. Similar to years past, if the number of registrations exceeds the numerical allocation for new H-1B's, then USCIS will then conduct a random selection lottery on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

As a reminder, the annual H-1B cap is set at 65,000, with an additional 20,000 numbers available for individuals who have earned an advanced degree from an accredited U.S. educational institution. Once these caps have been reached, employers will be unable to file new cap-subject H-1B petitions until April of 2022.

Impact to Employers & Foreign Nationals

Since the H-1B registration requirement requires employers seeking to file H-1B cap cases to first register online in order to enter the H-1B lottery, employers should take the time now to identify any employees who may require first-time H-1B sponsorship. Such employees generally include the following:

  • F-1 students currently working on OPT who require a change of status to H-1B;
  • Workers outside the U.S. seeking H-1B status for the first time;
  • Workers inside the U.S. on another work status that will max out (such as L-1A or L-1B); or
  • Workers currently in the U.S. in H-1B status working for a cap-exempt organization (non-profit or educational institution) who require a cap-subject H-1B to work for a private, for-profit organization/company.

The cap does not impact individuals currently in H-1B status seeking extensions of status, amendments of status, or changes such as a transfer to a new employer.

Please contact an MVA Immigration Team Member if you have any questions or want to discuss potential H-1B applicants.