H-1B Lottery to Remain Through 2021

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer February 5, 2021
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USCIS office

​U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Feb. 4 that the final rule replacing the annual H-1B visa lottery with a salary-based selection system will be delayed until Dec. 31.

It is likely that the Trump-era regulation will be challenged in federal court before then as contrary to the H-1B statute.

The Biden administration said it would review the rule. President Joe Biden expressed support for the concept of salary-based H-1B visa allocation during the 2020 election campaign.

We've rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other outlets on the news.

H-1B Visa Registration Begins in March

USCIS stated that the delay will provide more time for development, testing, training and public outreach. The delay means that the existing lottery system will remain in place for this year's H-1B cap season. The registration period for those visas begins in March.

(The Economic Times)

Highest Salary Offers First

The rule, which was to take effect on March 9, would give priority in the H-1B selection process to foreign workers whose offered salary falls in the highest wage level for their occupation and geographic area.

(SHRM Online)

Change Upon Change

The process for cap-subject H-1B visas had already gone through a major change for the 2020 filing season. A new electronic prefiling registration process was implemented, requiring employers to submit online registrations to be selected for the H-1B lottery before filing for petitions.

The aim of the new system was to simplify the H-1B visa filing process and cut costs for employers, because only those randomly selected from the registration pool would be eligible to file petitions.

(SHRM Online)

Petitions Down in 2020

The dramatic changes to the U.S. economy between March 1, 2020—when employers entered the H-1B lottery—and one month later, when they were notified that their applicants were selected for visas, left many uncertain of their next move.

By the time employers were notified of the lottery's results on April 1, the U.S. economy was devastated, as businesses were shuttered to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Consequently, for the first time in years, the number of petitions eventually filed did not meet the annual cap of 85,000.

(SHRM Online)

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