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New application process for H-1B visas begins March 1

A new electronic registration process for the overhauled H-1B visa system is now ready for the fiscal year 2021 lottery. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says the new system is an easier-to-use streamlined process.

The USCIS says the new electronic system will reduce paperwork and save employers money when petitioning for H-1B visas. Under a simplified online process, employers must share only basic information about themselves and each requested worker.

Registration runs through March 20

Under the new system, employers must pay a $10 fee for each application filed and can submit up to 250 petitions. Registration runs from March 1 through March 20, at which time the USCIS will determine whether enough petitions have been filed to fill the cap of 85,000 H-1B visas.

If the number of applicants exceeds the cap, a lottery will be held, and selected registrants will be eligible to file complete petitions for H-1B visas. Petitioners can begin creating accounts starting Feb. 24, and an experienced immigration attorney can help you with the process.

Significant increase in petitions expected

Many believe the new system, which includes an online portal, will greatly increase the number of employers filing petitions to sponsor foreign talent. They expect many will take advantage of the low fees as well as the less complicated system to file a petition.

Up until this year, companies were required to submit complete applications on behalf of foreign workers they wanted to sponsor and pay the entire fee. The process took almost a year to complete and cost employers more than $2,000 per application.

Experts urge employers to register early

More companies are expected to attempt to sponsor workers under the new system, especially those that previously couldn’t afford the costs. The cap is expected to be reached by March 20, at which time the USCIS will shut down registration.

If the limit is reached, the lottery would happen between March 21 and 31. Selections would be announced on April 1, and at that point, employers would have 90 days to submit full applications for workers in the hope of receiving an H-1B visa.

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