The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology, and fields such as teaching and accounting. If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the H-1B petition, the earliest date that the beneficiary (prospective employee) may start the approved H-1B employment is October 1. The validity period for this visa is up to three (3) years and may be renewed for three (3) additional year for a total of six (6) years.
Registration and application process with USCIS
Employers seeking to file an H-1B cap-subject petitions must first electronically register and pay a $10.00 non-refundable fee for each employee registration submitted, with payment available only through https://www.pay.gov/public/home. According to USCIS, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration process that will require only basic information about their company and each requested worker. See https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-formally-announces-implementation-electronic-h-1b-registration-process-and-registration-timeframe.
2. When to Register:
To date, USCIS has not announced the exact dates for electronic registration, previous registration periods have opened for three weeks during March, with employers notified of their selections shortly after the registration period has closed on its website at www.uscis.gov. If USCIS determines at the end of the initial registration period that an insufficient number of registrations have been received, USCIS will determine the final registration date once it has received the number of registrations projected as needed to reach the numerical allocations. If USCIS determines that it is necessary to reopen the registration period, USCIS will announce the start of the re-opened registration period on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov.
3. How to Register:
Petitioners must register using an online account. USCIS will provide step-by-step instructions on its website at www.uscis.gov. Employers and authorized representatives may start setting up their registration accounts in advance of the registration period opening. USCIS will post the date that employers and authorized representatives may start setting up accounts on its website. Employers and authorized representatives will be able to continue to set up accounts during the registration period and may immediately use those accounts to register. They may also set up accounts after the registration period to use for later years. A petitioner or its authorized representative must electronically submit a separate registration request naming everyone it seeks to petition for a cap-subject H–1B. Petitioners will be able to register multiple individuals in a single online session. The electronic system will allow for a filer to prepare, edit and store the record in their account prior to final payment and submission. A petitioner may only submit one registration per beneficiary in any fiscal year. If a petitioner submits more than one registration for the same beneficiary in the same fiscal year, USCIS will consider all registrations filed by that petitioner for that beneficiary for that fiscal year invalid.
4. Registration Selection
Registration Selection USCIS will send notices electronically to all registrants with selected registrations that they are eligible to file an H–1B cap-subject petition on behalf of the individual named in the notice within the filing period indicated on the notice. The notifications will be added to registration accounts. The account holder who submitted the selected registration will receive notification via email or text message stating that an action has been added to their account, and they will have to log in to see the full notice. Employers with selected registrations may begin filing H-1B CAP petitions on April 1, 2022 and will be given at least 90 days from the date of a registration selection to file the H-1B CAP petition. USCIS will adjudicate petitions in the order in which they are received.
An F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a cap-subject H-1B petition and request for change of status that is filed on time may have their F-1 status and any current employment authorization extended until the first day of the new fiscal year. The “cap-gap” period starts when an F-1 student’s status and employment authorization expires and, unless terminated, ends on Oct. 1, the required start date of the H-1B cap-subject petition filed on their behalf if seeking cap-gap authorization. Employers requesting F-1 change of status on behalf of an employee who requires “cap-gap” protections, must file the H-1B CAP petition BEFORE the employee’s optional practical training (OPT) expires, irrespective of the 90-day filing timeframe allotted to file the H-1B CAP petition upon receiving notification of the registration selection.