Today we bring you another edition of “Dear Sophie,” an advice column that answers readers’ questions about immigration for tech.
“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder, or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”
Today I’m sharing answers to the most frequently asked questions following up to the last H-1B Dear Sophie. Fortunately, the government has provided a lot more details over the last few weeks. Additional info about the electronic registration process is available on my H-1B podcast. Enjoy!
Am I limited to sponsoring somebody in the lottery to a maximum of three times?
No, there is no limit to how many times a company can sponsor an individual. A lot of companies tend to do it three times because candidates can often work for you for three years with OPT and STEM OPT, but the law doesn’t set out an upper limit. Also, you can sponsor current F-1 students as well as people who have accepted your offers who are currently outside the United States.
I’m in HR. When can I create my profile for H-1B electronic registration?
You can access my.uscis.gov starting February 24, 2020 at 10 a.m. (EST) to create your profile for the electronic registration process. However, employers will not be able to create registrations for your employees and candidates until March 1st at noon.
I’m working with a lawyer; which category should I select for my my.uscis.gov profile?
This is counterintuitive. If you’re working with an attorney, on the Account Type screen, don’t select the box for “I am an applicant, petitioner, or requestor.” Instead, select the “I am an H-1B registrant” box.
When can I actually register my employees and people who accepted our job offers?
The initial registration period starts March 1, 2020 and is supposed to run through March 20, 2020. USCIS will announce the actual end date of the initial registration period on its website. If not enough people register (unlikely), USCIS can decide to re-open registrations.
How do I add my lawyer to the my.uscis.gov account?
Your attorney will provide a “representative passcode” that you need to enter. This will take you to the G-28 page where you can accept your representative. Talk to your attorney about whether they prefer that you have USCIS send notices to you or their firm.
How many people can I register?
You can enter up to 250 people in one batch and you can review them before you submit.
What if I make a mistake when registering somebody?
You should be able to delete entries even after having submitted them. The website will warn you if there is missing information, but cannot warn you about inaccurate information.
Can I register the same person more than once?
No, don’t do it. It’s against the rules and you will forfeit this person’s opportunity to get an H-1B.
When are we supposed to file full I-129 petitions with all the supporting documents?
For each of your selected candidates, you will receive a selection notice listing the 90-day filing window deadline and the physical mailing address to send the petition package. Therefore, most petitions will be submitted April through June.
What if we electronically register somebody in good faith but we can’t go through with the petition?
USCIS is trusting your company to act in good faith. Make sure that for any candidate you electronically register, they have accepted a position with your company and you actually intend to follow through with hiring them. However, there is currently no requirement to notify USCIS if you won’t be following through with filing the full petition for a selected registration.
Can a current student be included in the “Master’s cap?”
The advanced degree exemption to the H-1B lottery is for candidates who have received master's degrees and PhDs from U.S. universities. They have a higher chance of lottery selection. Under the new electronic registration system, you have to prove eligibility at the time of filing the physical petition, not at the time of electronic registration. So if somebody is graduating in May or June, you check the Master’s cap box for them in March. However, it’s safest to wait to get their proof of graduation before submitting the full I-129 package.
What are the chances?
Last year, there were more than 200,000 petitions. There are 65,000 available H-1Bs plus 20,000 for the Master’s cap. Just how many petitions will be filed with the new electronic registration system remains to be seen.
Will premium processing continue to be available?
I don’t know, my crystal ball isn’t giving me information on this one right now. ;)
Have a question? Ask it here; we reserve the right to edit your submission for clarity and or space. The information provided in “Dear Sophie” is general information and not legal advice. For more information on the limitations of “Dear Sophie,” please view our full disclaimer here.
Have a story to share about how you navigated immigration to build your dreams? Apply to guest on Sophie’s podcast about immigration law for tech startups.
Future “Dear Sophie” columns will be accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one or two-year subscription for 50% off.