The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published a proposed rule that would require employers seeking to file H-1B visa petitions to electronically pre-register with DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to be considered for the H-1B lottery.

The pre-registration filing, which would go into effect sometime before the annual April 1st H-1B filing date, would include basic information such as the employer’s name and contact information, as well as the beneficiary’s name, contact information, and education level. An employer would not have to file a full H-1B petition, however, unless the beneficiary is subsequently selected in the “pre-registration” lottery.

The proposed rule would also change the order in which petitions for all cap-subject beneficiaries (with a cap of 65,000 visas each year) versus petitions for advanced degree beneficiaries (additional cap of 20,000 visas for individuals holding a master’s degree or higher) are selected in the H-1B lottery.

According to DHS, the pre-registration aspect of the proposed rule is intended to reduce burdens on both employers and USCIS by digitizing the system and reducing the number of paper petitions that must be completed and received. And the order selection portion of the proposed rule is intended to increase the likelihood that a higher number of advanced degree petitions will be selected, which is in line with the Trump Administration’s goal of having H-1B visas awarded to the most skilled beneficiaries.

USCIS has stated that it wants to finalize and implement the new rule in time for the opening of the fiscal year 2020 cap season, which would mean prior to April 1, 2019. Comments on the proposed rule are due by January 2, 2019.

The proposed rule is available here.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.