“This effort will help implement a more efficient and effective H-1B cap selection process,” said USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli. “The electronic registration system is part of an agency-wide initiative to modernise our immigration system while deterring fraud, improving vetting procedures and strengthening programme integrity.”
The final rule is effective December 9, 2019, and the fee will be required when registrations are submitted. The USCIS is slated to implement the registration process for the fiscal year 2021 H-1B cap selection process, pending completed testing of the system. Once implemented, petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, will first have to electronically register with the USCIS during a designated registration period, unless the requirement is suspended.
The agency will announce the implementation timeframe and initial registration period in the Federal Register once a formal decision has been made. It published a notice of proposed rulemaking highlighting a registration fee on September 4, 2019, which included a 30-day public comment period. It received only 22 comments during that time, and has considered all submissions and offered public responses ahead of announcing the final rule, it said in a statement.
The H-1B programme allows companies in the US to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialised knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. Over two-thirds of the recipients of this visa are Indian citizens. The new system is expected to streamline the visa application process and also help bring down costs for employers.