Contributed by Jacqueline Lentini McCullough
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced on March 2, 2011, that it is seeking to simplify the annual H-1B filing process for U.S. employers, thereby saving a projected $23 million to U.S. businesses. As background, the H-1B is a non-immigrant visa allowing U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Each year, employers seeking to file a H-1B petition, subject to either the 65,000 statutory cap or the 20,000 statutory Master’s cap, race to do so on April 1, when USCIS opens the filing period for new H-1B’s. Under the proposed rule, USCIS would establish an advance registration system. The proposed registration process would require employers seeking to file a H-1B petition to simply register electronically with USCIS in a 30-minute application process. USICS would then select the number of registrations it estimates to exhaust the annual caps for both the 65,000 and 20,000 caps. In this way, employers would be saved the burden of filing a H-1B petition that is not ultimately selected for processing.