USCIS Announces $10 Fee for H-1B Lottery Registration
This morning, USCIS announced a final rule that will require a $10 non-refundable fee for each H-1B lottery registration submitted by petitioners. This rule is to help subsidize the costs involved with the H-1B lottery pre-registration system that is slated to be implemented for the FY 2021 H-1B lottery, pending completed testing of the system.
USCIS is expecting to implement the online pre-registration system for the FY 2020 lottery. However, to date, USCIS has not finished testing the system, provided any guidance on what data will need to be included, and they still reserve the right to forgo the pre-registration process and require full H-1B petitions to be submitted during cap season. Most importantly, we do not know what documentation will be required for the pre-registration system. There has been no true indication whether it will require basic passport biographical information, whether an LCA is required, whether education documents will be required, or whether project documents will be required. It would be best for employers to prepare for a complete petition just in case.
While the pre-registration implementation process has not been formally announced, nor do we know what would be required for pre-registration, there are some important pieces of information USCIS provides in the $10 fee regulation:
1. This $10 fee is non-refundable. In the past, petitioners would submit filing fee checks for their H-1Bs, but if the case was not selected, they would receive the full check back. Now, petitioners must pay the $10 fee to do the pre-registration, the lottery will be run, and they will be required to pay the H-1B filing fees.
2. USCIS will use pay.gov for the payment portal. Petitioners, or their G-28 representatives, will not be required to have a pay.gov account to make payment.
3. Payment of the fee can be done through ACH, credit card, or debit card. Payment CANNOT be made using cash, check, or money order
4. No ACH fee will be charged.
5. The registration system will allow for batch payments to pay for multiple registrations simultaneously. DHS provides the example of one person submitting five registrations. They will be able to make one payment of $50 for the cost of the five registration.
6. Registrants will be able to submit as many registrations in as many batches as necessary during the registration period. For example, a registrant can register people and pay $50 on March 5, a batch of eight and pay $80 on March 6, etc.
7. The pre-registration fee has an added benefit of preventing fraudulent registration. USCIS will be monitoring the system for potential fraud and abuse. Registrants will be required to attest that they intend to file an H-1B for the beneficiary in the position for which the registration is filed. This is to ensure that there is a bona fide job offer. USCIS will be monitoring the system to determine if employers are submitting many registrations but filing petitions based on selected registrations at a significantly lower rate.
The formal document with this rule can be found: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2019-24292.pdf
By: Steven Brown
Steven Brown is an attorney in the firm's H-1B Department and represents our business clients throughout the entire H-1B, H-4, and H-4 EAD process. Additionally, Steven works with clients with Department of Labor Compliance included assistance with wage and hours investigations. Steven prides himself in being able to provide his clients with creative solutions to complex immigration problems.