Feb 05 2021

USCIS Announces Registration Schedule for FY 2022 H-1B Cap Season

United States

At a glance

  • The FY 2022 cap registration period will open at noon EST on March 9, 2021 and will close at noon EDT on March 25, 2021.  All cap registrations must be drafted and submitted online during this period.
  • USCIS will then conduct the FY 2022 H-1B cap selection and notify sponsoring employers of selected entries by March 31, 2021.
  • If the number of registrations exceeds the H-1B quota of 85,000, USCIS will use a random computerized lottery to select the registrations for which an H-1B cap petition may be filed. USCIS will not implement a wage-based selection system during this cap season.
  • Employers may submit petitions for selected registrations starting April 1, 2021.  The petition filing period will close no earlier than June 30, 2021.

The issue

Sponsoring employers may submit registrations for the FY 2022 H-1B cap between noon EST on March 9, 2021, and noon EDT on March 25, 2021, USCIS has announced. As in past years, USCIS will use a random computerized lottery to select the registrations for which an H-1B cap petition may be submitted. The agency announced yesterday that it will delay implementation of a Trump Administration regulation that would have allocated H-1B cap numbers to beneficiaries paid the highest wage level for their occupation and geographic area.

Registering for the FY 2022 H-1B cap

USCIS will once again use an online registration system to conduct the H-1B cap selection.

Your organization must have a myUSCIS account for each Employer Identification Number (EIN) entity that will sponsor beneficiaries for the FY 2022 cap season. An employer account is necessary whether your organization will work with immigration counsel to submit registrations or will submit registrations on its own behalf. Your organization’s accounts must be maintained by an employee authorized to sign immigration benefit requests for your organization. While more than one authorized signatory is permitted, each signatory must have a separate account. 

Please note that myUSCIS has not yet enabled the creation of Employer “Registrant” accounts for the FY 2022 H-1B cap season. Your organization and its representatives must therefore refrain from creating a myUSCIS account for H-1B registration until this function is enabled. Inadvertently creating the wrong account type will block the user’s email address from creating a registrant account at a later date. USCIS has indicated it will announce soon when registrant accounts can be created.   

Further, while it appears to be the case that employer accounts created last year can continue to be used for this year’s registration period, we await complete USCIS instruction on employer registrant account creation for guidance.   

If your organization will be represented by immigration counsel during the registration process, you will be able to associate your organization’s account with its attorneys’ accounts after you create your own.

Cap registration opens March 9, 2021

USCIS will open the cap registration period on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at noon EST. Employers and their immigration counsel can begin to draft and submit cap registrations at this time. The USCIS system will not accept drafts or registrations before March 9.

The registration period will close on Thursday, March 25, 2021 at noon EDT. All registrations for the FY 2022 cap must be submitted by this time. Late registrations will not be accepted.

Employers will be able to include up to 250 beneficiaries in a single registration submission. There is no limit on the number of registrations an employer can submit.

Preparing registrations during the submission period

Between March 9 and March 25, 2021, employers and their counsel will need to draft, review and sign each registration submission. Once immigration counsel has drafted a registration, the USCIS system will generate a passcode that your organization will use to review, approve and electronically sign the registration. If your organization approves the registration, your counsel will sign it electronically, submit it, and pay the registration fee of $10 per beneficiary.

The H-1B cap selection process

As in past years, USCIS is expected to receive far more H-1B cap registrations than needed to meet the annual quota of 85,000. 

USCIS will conduct two lotteries to select enough beneficiaries to meet the 85,000 annual cap. The first lottery will include all registered beneficiaries and will select enough registrations to meet the regular cap of 65,000. The second lottery would include registered U.S. advanced-degree holders who were not chosen in the first lottery, and would select enough registrations to meet the advanced-degree cap exemption of 20,000.

Notification of selection

USCIS plans to notify employers and immigration counsel of winning registrations by March 31, 2021. Employers and counsel will receive USCIS emails notifying them that the status of their registration(s) has changed; they will then need to log into the USCIS system to see the selection status of each registered beneficiary. 

For each winning beneficiary, USCIS will provide a selection notice that must be printed out and submitted with the cap petition for the beneficiary. The selection notice is valid for the named beneficiary only; employers cannot substitute beneficiaries.

The petition filing period

USCIS will begin to accept cap petitions for selected beneficiaries on April 1, 2021. The petition filing period will close no earlier than June 30, 2021. 

Employers can file their petitions at any time during the filing period, but some cases might need to be filed early in the period. For example, an F-1 student with an optional practical training (OPT) employment authorization document (EAD) that expires before June 30 must have their cap petition filed before the OPT EAD expiration date to ensure cap-gap work authorization benefits through the October 1 start date of their H-1B cap petition. Your organization should work with your Fragomen team to identify beneficiaries whose petitions must be filed by a specific date within the registration period.

In the coming weeks, USCIS is expected to announce whether premium processing will continue to be available during the FY 2022 H-1B cap petition filing period.

What employers should do now

Though cap registration will not open until March 9, employers should work with their immigration counsel to identify H-1B cap needs and gather beneficiary data as soon as possible. For each beneficiary, the employer must provide the following: 

  • full legal name;
  • gender;
  • date of birth;
  • country of birth;
  • country of citizenship;
  • passport number, if any; and
  • whether the beneficiary is eligible for the U.S. advanced-degree cap, or will be eligible for the advanced-degree cap at the time an H-1B cap petition is filed on the beneficiary’s behalf.

Your organization should also work with your Fragomen team to begin to gather supporting documentation and information required for H-1B cap petitions. Advance preparation can minimize the risk of delay during the busy registration and petition filing periods.

In addition to identifying your H-1B cap needs for FY 2022, your organization should work with your designated Fragomen representative to update employer registration accounts (if necessary) and plan for review and approval of registrations during the March 9–25 registration period.

Fragomen is closely monitoring the USCIS cap registration process and will provide frequent updates throughout the FY 2022 cap season.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.