News & Articles

Reforms to H-1B Lottery Process Proposed

Published on November 30, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security released today proposed H-1B visa reforms set to be enacted in 2019. The two critical proposed changes include: requiring an electronic Pre-Registration before the H-1B selection lottery on April 1, 2019, and reversing the lottery selection processes so as to favor applicants with U.S. Master’s degrees.

Under the proposed rule, the required employer pre-registration will occur during the two-week period before the  H-1B filing deadline of April 1, 2019. DHS has stated that the agency will provide at least 30 days of advance notice before the opening of the initial pre-registration period. Employers will still need to provide basic information, including the name of the beneficiary and proposed job title for the position, and can only preregister one time for each Beneficiary. Once selection is completed, USCIS will notify Petitioners if their H-1B petition has been selected. Employers with selected H-1B petitions will then have 60 days to file the complete H-1B petition packet. Unselected preregistrations will be reserved in case more H-1B visas become available.

Due to the time restraints for the implementation of these changes, the rule also contemplates the potential that USCIS will not have sufficient time to implement the new pre-registration system. In that case, the pre-registration system for the upcoming FY-2020 H-1B cap season will be suspended.

We recommend that employers start preparing potential H-1B cap petitions in early 2019, despite the potential implementation of the pre-registration system. Given the higher evidentiary standards imposed by USCIS for H-1B petitions, it is best to have all of their H-1B petitions ready to file by April 1, 2019, in case USCIS is unable to implement the new system for FY-2020.

The other important proposed change to the H-1B lottery process will be how USCIS selects petitions under the Regular and Master’s caps . Instead of selecting the 20,000 H-1B petitions allocated to Beneficiaries with U.S. Master’s degrees first, USCIS will now make the initial selection for the allocated 65,000 Regular Cap petitions first. The proposed process would likely result in an increase in the number of H-1B petitions selected in the lottery for individuals with U.S. Master’s degrees.

The proposed rule will be available for comment from December 3, 2018 through January 2, 2019.

The immigration attorneys at Ryan Swanson are available to assist employers with navigating the complex H-1B cap petition process, and can answer any questions regarding potential changes to the H-1B lottery process under the proposed rule.


Amy Royalty can be reached at [email protected].
Jen Chen can be reached at [email protected].
Cody Nunn can be reached at [email protected].
Marsha Mavunkel can be reached at [email protected].
Joel Paget can be reached at [email protected].
Janet Cheetham can be reached at [email protected].

This message has been released by the Immigration Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.

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