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USCIS Announces 2021 H-1B Lottery Dates

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that its registration portal for H-1B visas will open at 10 am MT on March 9. The registration portal will then close at 10 am MT on March 25, which means that employers have a little more than a month to identify any current foreign national employees and potential candidates for employment who may require H-1B specialty occupation visa sponsorship.

We anticipate that USCIS will again receive H-1B registrations far in excess of the permitted annual quota. We recommend that employers identify any H-1B eligible candidates as soon as possible, particularly for any current employees who hold F-1 student status and who will require H-1B status to continue working once their current employment authorization (Optional Practical Training – “OPT” or “STEM OPT”) expires. Though cap registration will not open until March 9, employers should contact us as soon as possible to make sure that we can get registrations completed in a timely manner.

As with last year, USCIS will use a random computerized lottery to select registrations for which an H-1B cap petition may be submitted and will notify sponsoring employers of selected entries by March 31, 2021. Employers will then have 90 days to submit their full H-1B petitions for selected registrants.

Importantly, USCIS will not implement a new rule that was pushed through by the outgoing Trump administration that would have altered the random selection process by giving preference to petitions paying a higher prevailing wage. While it is unclear as to if the rule will be in effect for the 2023 season, it will not be part of this year’s H-1B lottery process.

As always, we are happy to help you navigate H-1B season and to help with any immigration questions.  Please do not hesitate to contact Ashlyn Kahler-Rios or Brad Hendrick from Caplan & Earnest’s Immigration Law practice if you have any questions about the H-1B lottery or would like to discuss the immigration process further.

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