Applications for H-1B visa to be accepted from April 1, 2020: US


PTI, Dec 7, 2019, 2:34 PM IST

Washington: The US has completed implementation of H-1B electronic registration process for the 2021 cap season and the petitions for the most sought after work visa among Indian IT professionals will be accepted from April 1, 2020, the country’s immigration agency has announced.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency mandated with task of approving such applications, on Friday announced that it had completed the process to implement the H-1B electronic registration process for the 2021 cap season.

The companies applying for H-1B visas for foreign workers for the fiscal year 2021 would have to register online and pay a processing fee of USD 10.

The USCIS would start accepting the H-1B petitions from April 1, 2020 for the next fiscal year. “The electronic registration process will dramatically streamline processing by reducing paperwork and data exchange, and will provide an overall cost savings to petitioning employers,” the USCIS said.

Under this new process, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration process that requires only basic information about their company and each requested worker.

The USCIS will open an initial registration period from March 1 to March 20, 2020. The H-1B random selection process, if needed, will then be run on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, according to a media report.

“By streamlining the H-1B cap selection process with a new electronic registration system, USCIS is creating cost savings and efficiencies for petitioners and the agency, as only those selected will now be required to submit a full petition,” said USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans.

“The agency completed a successful pilot testing phase, which included sessions with industry representatives, and implementation of the registration system will further the goal of modernizing USCIS from a paper-based to an online-filing agency,” he said.

USCIS will post step-by-step instructions informing registrants how to complete the registration process on its website along with key dates and timelines as the initial registration period nears.

The federal agency will also conduct public engagements and other outreach activities to ensure registrants and interested parties are familiar with the new registration system, it said. The USCIS may determine if it is necessary to continue accepting registrations, or open an additional registration period, if it does not receive enough registrations and subsequent petitions projected to reach the numerical allocations, it added.

The H1B visa has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year as mandated by the Congress. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap.

Additionally, H1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities or a nonprofit research organisation or a government research organisation are not subject to this numerical cap.

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