USCIS has confirmed that, effective April 1, 2019, it will reverse the order of selection for H-1B cap lottery to benefit individuals with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education. Going forward, USCIS will pick petitions to fill the Regular Cap H-1B before running a second lottery to fill the Master’s cap from the eligible cases remaining in the pool following the first lottery. Recent estimates suggest that this change will result in an increase in the proportion of H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a US institution, with the number expected to increase by approximately 16%. The new process will apply to petitions filed during the FY2020 Cap Season.
Additionally, USCIS announced that, in response to public comment, it is postponing the rollout of the H-1B Cap lottery preregistration system. This new process will not take effect in 2019 but will be suspended until 2020 to allow USCIS time to ensure all systems are operating well prior to full implementation. In the future, once the registration system is in place, employers seeking H-1B status for employees through the Cap Lottery will be required to register each potential application electronically with USCIS during a registration period. Electronic registrations are expected to reduce the cost for petitioners and increase overall efficiency during the CAP process.
In December, EIG attorneys Hiba Anver, Justin Parsons, and Jeff Quilhot hosted a podcast episode on the then proposed rule change, anticipating future changes and outlining the real-world implications for companies and applicants. You can listen to their analysis on iTunes, Spotify, and always on our website.
We will continue to update as the story further develops.