US Citizenship and Immigration Services  announced the pre-registration period for cap-subject H-1B visa petitions for the 2021 fiscal year will run from March 1 to March 20.

Petitioners for cap-subject H-1B visas, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, seeking to file a FY 2021 H-1B cap petition will be required to first register electronically with USCIS and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each submission.

If more than a sufficient number of registrations are received, USCIS will randomly select the number of registrations projected as needed to reach the fiscal 2021 H-1B numerical allocations after the initial registration period closes and notify registrants with selected registrations no later than March 31.

Petitioners whose pre-registrations are selected will be eligible to file a fiscal 2021 cap-subject petition only for the worker named in the registration and within the filing period indicated on the eligibility notice.

The USCIS will conduct outreach activities before the opening of the initial registration period to enable users to familiarize themselves with the new electronic registration process. The agency  will conduct in-depth webinars and publish a series of videos for attorneys and general users to walk through the system step-by-step.

H-1B visas go to highly skilled foreign workers such as IT professionals. However, the number of such visas are capped each year at 65,000 with an additional cap of 20,000 for those who have advanced degrees from the US.

Applications have exceeded the number of visas available under the caps within the first week such visas are accepted each year since federal fiscal-year 2014. When the applications exceed availability, a lottery system has been used to award the visas. Last year, the government reversed how it selects H-1B petitions when it holds such a lottery. Under the change, the government randomly selects petitions until it reaches the 65,000 cap. Then it randomly selects additional petitioners with advanced degrees until the 20,000 cap is reached. This is the opposite of what has been done in the past, and could increase the number of those with advanced degrees receiving H-1B visas.

The pre-registration system is new this year.