In January 2019, USCIS announced a new process for filing for H-1B cases that involves an electronic preregistration process that will allow employers to provide more limited information than is included in a full H-1B filing and H-1B petitioners would be selected randomly. USCIS chose not to use the new system for the entry period that began in April 2019 and indicated it hoped to have the system in place for the entry period that would take place in April 2020.

In August, 15 organizations including, Compete America, the Association of American Universities and the American Immigration Lawyers Association signed a letter asking USCIS to confirm by September 15th, 2019 whether it still intended to mandate use of the electronic registration system for the FY2021 filing period in April 2020. The letter signatories also asked USCIS to solicit additional participation and feedback from stakeholders, particularly in the form of beta testing of the new system. USCIS responded on September 30th indicating that the agency intends to implement the system next April “subject to continued testing of the system.” USCIS indicated that it has been conducting usability testing, though it did not elaborate on how extensive that testing is or if they’ve tested with people outside the agency.

The agency indicated that they would provide outreach and training prior to the implementation. However, immigration lawyers are concerned that the agency will decide not to implement the registration system and leave employers scrambling to prepare full applications with little warning. Consequently, many practitioners are likely to prepare full petitions rather than risk facing a last minute change of heart by USCIS.

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