For the H-1B cap season in 2020 (Fiscal Year 2021 H-1B cases), USCIS has started a registration system for the first time. Employers must first electronically register for the H-1B "lottery" and pay a $10 fee for each potential employee. If the case is selected, the employer then files a complete H-1B package with USCIS.
This system is different to previous years, where attorneys had to file complete H-1B petitions before even knowing whether this cases would be selected for processing. This resulted in many hours of work for employers, often thousands of dollars in legal fees, and the case might never even have been reviewed by USCIS if it didn't make the lottery. It was immensely frustrating for employers and for the legal community.
The new system is fairer to employers, who will incur fewer expenses initially. However, it is not clear whether the new system will result in thousands of inappropriate registrations and how USCIS will deal with these. Unscrupulous participants could try to sabotage the system by filing bogus applications. Uneducated employers could file H-1B registrations for employees that are not qualified. Finally, although USCIS has prohibited duplicate filings for the same person, there is little doubt that we will see many of these if the registration is just $10.
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.