U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today in a stakeholder message that H-1B processing will be delayed for fiscal year 2021 cap season because of COVID-19-related health protocols. A 90-day filing period began April 1.

Key dates and information:

  • H-1B cap-subject petitions filed beginning April 1 will not immediately be entered into the system. The agency will not begin to conduct intake or generate receipt notices until at least May 1.
  • When data entry begins, the agency will conduct intake in the order in which petitions were received.
  • Petitions will be stamped on the date they arrived at the USCIS service center, and properly filed petitions will retain the receipt date corresponding to the date of arrival.
  • Because of delays in data entry and receipt notice generation, employers should anticipate a “general delay” in processing FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions.
  • The agency said it is mindful of H-1B candidates with sensitive expiration and start dates, such as cap-gap petitions, and will strive to process those petitions as efficiently as possible.

BAL Analysis: Employers should plan for delays in H-1B cap receipt notices of at least several weeks, and should prioritize time-sensitive filings when meeting the filing deadline of June 30. USCIS suspended premium processing until further notice earlier this year and the agency indicated today that it is not planning to extend the 90-day filing window. H-1B cap-subject petitions must be filed during the filing window indicated in the registration selection notice.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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