A new document released from the Department of Homeland Security entitled “Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Aliens Subject to Numerical Limitations” means extreme changes for the H-1B program’s lottery.
According to the abstract of the article, this rule proposes to establish an electronic registration program for petitions subject to the H-1B cap. The press release remarks,
“This action is being considered because the demand for H-1B specialty occupation workers by U.S. companies has often exceeded the numerical limitation. This rule is intended to allow USCIS to more efficiently manage the intake and lottery process for these H-1B petition.”
According to the release, this new policy would streamline the administration of the H-1B cap process and ensure that H-1B visas go to the highest paid or highest skilled applicants. DHS anticipates that implementing a pre-registration process could benefit the regulated public by potentially reducing the cost and time involved in petitioning for H-1B non-immigrants.
This rule proposes to require employers seeking to petition for H-1B workers subject to the cap to first file electronic registrations with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period. The registration would limit the number of excess applicants admitted to the pool each year.
If USCIS anticipates that the H-1B cap will not be reached by the first day that H-1B petitions may be filed for a fiscal year, USCIS would notify all registered employers that they are eligible to file H-1B petitions on behalf of the beneficiaries named in the selected registrations. USCIS would continue to accept and select registrations until the H-1B cap is reached.
However, if USCIS anticipates that cap will be reached, the registration will end before such date and randomly select enough timely filed registrations to meet the applicable cap.
The USCIS predicts this new process will relieve the administrative burden of both their officials and employers who spend significant time and costs to prepare petitions without knowing if the cap has been reached.
For U.S. companies and immigration attorneys the issue will be numerical caps limitation, whether this will apply to all companies or if it will be carried out for small business or industries. There is also a question of how it would address off-site clients.
The Trump administration has narrowed its sights on the H-1B program by making small, but comprehensive, changes which chip away at the infrastructure of the visa program as we know it. In addition to required registration, the administration has proposed changes to H-1B eligibility criteria and wage requirements, fee increases, changes to the STEM Optical Training program and recension of H-4 visas for spouses of H-1B beneficiaries.
As employers become less sure that they can hire the workers they need within this country, they become apprehensive about keeping part or all their business on our shores. Companies moving abroad to fairer skies for immigration would be detrimental to our economy.
It is critical that our legislature and the current administration began devising policies which emphasis the needs of our corporations, our economy and our people.