USCIS Rolls Out New H-1B Rule

Feb 1, 2019 | Raluca Vais-Ottosen

Published 2.1.2019

The highly anticipated changes to the H-1B visa rules regarding the lottery selection and employer registration process have been announced. The final rule, published on January 31, 2019, will be implemented in two phases.

What does the new H-1B rule change?
The new H-1B rule makes two modifications to how H-1B petitions are processed. First, the new rule changes the order in which H-1B petitions are selected in the lottery. Under the old system, USCIS would first select the 20,000 H-1Bs subject to the master’s cap exemption, and then select the base 65,000 H-1Bs subject to the standard bachelor degree cap. Under the new rule, USCIS will reverse the order and select first the H-1B petitions subject to the regular cap, and then those subject to the master’s cap. USCIS expects that the reverse-order selection process will likely increase the number of selections for individuals with a Master’s or Ph.D from a U.S. university, thereby increasing the pool of highly skilled workers.

Second, the new rule introduces a mandatory electronic registration process for employers seeking to file cap-subject H-1B petitions. USCIS intends to run through the lottery only those petitioners who go through the electronic registration process.

When does the new H-1B rule take effect?
The reverse order of the lottery selection process will take effect on April 1, 2019, when the upcoming H-1B cap season starts. Therefore, the reverse order H-1B selection will be implemented right away.

The electronic registration requirement will be delayed to the cap season starting in April 2020, for Fiscal Year 2021. After a considerable amount of public requests, USCIS agreed to delay the electronic registration phase for at least another year, to allow sufficient time for the new H-1B registration system to be fully tested. Once implemented, USCIS will announce a predetermined registration period during which employers must electronically register at least 30 days in advance for each fiscal year in which it is required.

We will continue to monitor the implementation of the new H-1B rules and will provide updates as needed. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the H-1B process, or any other immigration-related matters, please contact Raluca (Luca) Vais-Ottosen at (608) 252-9291 or