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In the spring of 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a procedural change for obtaining new H-1B visas for foreign workers. Gone (we hope) are the days of U.S. employers filing a couple hundred thousand petitions for foreign workers on April 1, only to find their petition entered into a lottery where they don’t know their fate until as late as August.  Odds are better of being selected, anywhere from 1:2 to 1:4, but still the system is hardly Powerball.

Under the USCIS’s proposed rules, beginning October 1, employers will no longer file a full petition on, or shortly after, April 1, seeking new H-1B visas for foreign nationals.  Instead, petitioning employers will now electronically register in advance, during a designated registration period, pay a non-refundable $10 fee and, then, if selected, file their H-1B petition for the prospective foreign national employee. This new system should reduce employers spending time and money on H-1B petitions that are ultimately rejected. Now, employers will only need to identify the beneficiary employee of the H-1B visa, pay a minimal fee to the government, and see whether they are green-lighted to file their petitions.  This new process aims to be more streamlined, less expensive, and offer more certainty to petitioning employers. 

The new process isn’t final yet, so there could be changes, and the system needs to be tested, so stay tuned.  Also, this process only applies to petitions for new H-1B visas – that is to say, it does not apply to petitions for people who are on a current H-1B visa with another employer, renewals of current H-1B visas, or if the foreign national has received an H-1B visa in the past six years.  It’s just for new H-1B visa candidates and those who are recent college graduates on F-1/OPT immigration status.  

If you have any questions about the H-1B visa please contact your Thompson Coe attorney or the myHRgenius Hotline at (651) 389-5000 or

Thompson Coe and myHRgenius Tip of the Week is not intended as a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


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Kevin M. Mosher

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