The Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 H-1B cap season is almost here. If you’re someone who hires H-1B employees, you must be curious to know how things turn out this season. We are as eager as you’re. As per its statement released on 16th February, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received a sufficient number of petitions needed to reach the congressionally mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap and the 20,000 H-1B visa US advanced degree exemption (also known as the master's cap) for the FY 2021.
Here are a few things that employers, and foreigners eyeing the U.S. labor market need to know about the H-1B visa, and the registration process for the FY 2022.
The H-1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa that allows people to temporarily work in the U.S. For this visa, an employer must offer the candidate a job in the country, and apply for the employee’s H-1B visa petition with the U.S. Immigration Department. Since the H-1B visa is issued for a specialty occupation, it requires the visa holder to possess theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge in addition to having a Bachelor's degree or a higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.
The USCIS sets a limit on the number of H-1B visas issued each year. Though these numbers can change as per regulations of the US government, generally the cap is placed at 65,000. An additional 20, 000 H-1B visas are issued for qualified people who have completed a Master's degree from the USA.
Every calendar year, a deadline is placed within which employers are expected to file their H-1B visa petitions meant for the next FY. Petitions are not accepted are not accepted beyond the specified date. Since the H-1B visa is one of the most sought-after work visas, the cap is usually met within a few days of the deadline. In case the cap is not filled, the USCIS will continue to accept applications until that number is met.
It was for the FY 2021 H-1B cap season that the USCIS implemented the electronic registration system. Some of you would know that the H-1B cap initial registrations for the FY 2022 opens the next month. The registration period is from March 9, 2021, through March 25, 2021. Employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for the FY 2022 cap, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must electronically register first and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee. Employers must remember that they can submit only one entry per H-1B employee. The employer must attest that if their submission is selected, then they’ll file a complete H-1B petition.
The registration process requires only basic information about the company and each requested worker. The H-1B random selection process will then be run. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. The regular cap lottery is conducted first, followed by the U.S. master’s cap lottery. The drawing order is believed to give individuals with a U.S. master’s degree better chances of selection compared to the old ordering system.
Within 90 days of being selected, the registrants’ employers will then file their petitions with the USCIS for processing along with the appropriate filing fees and supporting documents. If the petition is approved, the H-1B visa will be issued, and the beneficiary’s start date will be October 1, 2021.
Note: Once you have set up your account, set a registrant profile, and then add registrations, for the employees you wish to hire. You can pay the registration fee for all the registrations filed at once. This registration phase doesn't require the inclusion of a Labor Condition Application.
USCIS is expected to notify the lottery winners by March 31, 2021. According to USCIS, the registrant’s online account will show one of the following statuses for each registration:
Invalidated-Failed Payment: A registration was submitted but the payment method was declined, not reconciled, or otherwise invalid.
If selected, the earliest that you can file your petition for the FY 2022 H-1B cap is April 1, 2021. H-1B cap-subject beneficiaries, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must have a valid “Selected” registration notification for that specific FY for a registrant or representative to properly file an H-1B cap-subject petition.
You should note that the status of registrations that are not selected as part of any initial random selection process, and not denied or invalidated, will remain as “Submitted.”
Registrants and representatives that are not selected will not be notified until after USCIS has determined that they have reached the H-1B cap for that fiscal year.
Important Update: The USCIS has delayed the final rule issued on Jan. 8 that seeks to implement a wage-based H-1B quota until December 31, 2021. Experts state that the Biden Administration still has to thoroughly review it, and his administration or the federal courts may eliminate it. The rule was scheduled to take effect on March 9.
We understand the difficulty of gathering information, filing petitions, and obtaining an H-1B visa. The application process itself can be tiresome, right? It demands a lot of care and attention, and that’s why employers like you require expert guidance. OnBlick is an Immigration and HR compliance software with H-1B case management system as one of its core features. Its guided processes assist clients and help them avoid any errors or pitfalls that could lead to a denial or delay of the petition. It also suggests the appropriate SOC codes and determines the prevailing wages. This H-1B cap season, integrate with OnBlick and improve your chances of approval. Book a quick demo here.