The United States Department of Homeland Security Announces Changes for H-1B Cap Season
February 1, 2019
This is an update to our post from December 4, 2018. This past Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released for official publication on January 31, 2019, a final rule changing how it will select H-1B cap-subject petitions in years when there are more petitions filed than visas available. Starting April 1, 2019, under the new rule, DHS will select the 65,000 petitions for the regular cap first before selecting the additional 20,000 for the U.S. master’s cap (the additional H-1B visas available to beneficiaries who have a master’s degree from a U.S. university). In previous years, USCIS selected petitions under the master’s cap first and then considered all remaining petitions not selected in or not eligible for the master’s cap in the regular lottery. The new system will increase the number of H-1B beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree. This is one of the express goals of this change. DHS estimates that this change will increase the number of beneficiaries with U.S. master’s degrees by 5,340 individuals each year. DHS also intends to require employers to register online for each cap-subject H-1B petition they wish to file. If one or more of their petitions is selected in the lottery, they will be notified and asked to file a petition with supporting documents at that time. However, it has announced that this new registration requirement will not be implemented before the FY2021 cap season.