E-registration kicks in for H-1B visa applications

MUMBAI: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which oversees immigration to the US, has announced a new process to apply for H-1B cap visas. Companies sponsoring employees for the H-1B cap visa will have to register electronically, giving basic details of their company and the concerned employee. The registration period will be open from March 1 to March 20, in the next calendar year.

This new process kicks in for the filing season 2020-21 (which means, the earliest a selected employee can commence work in the US is from October 2020). Sponsoring companies will have to pay a non-refundable registration fee of $10 per registration.

TOI was the first to report in its edition of August 21 that the new process will start from the forthcoming filing season. As step 2, the random selection process (known as the lottery) will be run on these electronic registrations. Companies will have to file H-1B visa applications with the exhaustive documentation, only on in respect of the selected registrations. A limited period window, which is likely to start from April 1, will be opened for filing the visa applications. The annual quota of 85,000 for H-1B cap visas remains unchanged (this includes the Masters cap quota of 20,000 for which only those with advanced US educational degrees are eligible).

In other words, sponsoring employers would be saved from the current process of having to filing extensive documentation for all applications at the very onset, just for entry into the lottery. The documentation is exhaustive, especially for IT service companies who place their H-1B employees at client sites. Such companies have to provide details such as the itinerary of the employees and customer service agreements.

H-1B visas are widely used by India’s technology sector. Recently, in a reply to the Parliament, minister of external affairs, S Jaishankar said that in fiscal 2018, 1.25 lakh H-1B visas were issued to Indian nationals which accounted for nearly 70% of the total visas.

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