H-1B Pre-Registration System Sees Flood of Applicants

Recent pressure from the Trump administration—including a rising rate of denials—hasn’t slowed attempts to land an H-1B visa, according to new data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

There were 275,000 individual entries to the new electronic pre-registration system for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, a 25 percent increase in H-1B filings year-over-year. Some 43 percent of this year’s pre-registrants had advanced degrees. 

This is the first year that USCIS has adopted this electronic pre-registration process, and the agency is claiming success. “As a result of this modernized process, the amount of paper and data exchanged between USCIS and petitioners will dramatically decrease this year,” USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow wrote in a statement. “The positive feedback received by users of the H-1B registration system, the limited amount of technical issues experienced during the registration period, and the ability to immediately respond to questions from registrants was the result of a comprehensive effort developed over the course of more than a year.”

USCIS first announced plans for electronic pre-registration in early 2019. Online registration costs $10 per application, and only those companies whose registrations are selected via the subsequent lottery will complete the (much lengthier) visa petitions. “By streamlining the H-1B cap selection process with a new electronic registration system, (the government) is creating cost savings and efficiencies for petitioners and the agency, as only those selected will now be required to submit a full petition,” Mark Koumans, deputy director of USCIS, was quoted as saying when the system was first announced.

Ever since that announcement, H-1B critics have claimed that easy pre-registration will encourage firms to flood the system with applicants, which in turn could thwart any attempts to truly make the H-1B a visa for “specialized talent.” Many of these critics point to consulting and business-services firms as the most likely to abuse this new system. As predicted, this new data from USCIS suggests the pre-registration platform was flooded with applicants, and less than half had the advanced degrees that usually delineate specialized talent—however, that doesn’t mean all those applications will make it through to the visa stage.

Indeed, the rest of the H-1B visa process has seen its share of crackdowns. The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), which digests and analyzes data from USCIS, offers up regular breakdowns of H-1B data. Its most recent one shows that, for all four quarters of fiscal year 2019, denial rates rose for H-1B petitions for initial employment. Will that situation continue? Dice’s separate analysis of USCIS data shows that the rate of initial H-1B approvals (as well as approvals post-RFE) has crept up slightly, but denials are still way up over the pre-Trump years.

35 Responses to “H-1B Pre-Registration System Sees Flood of Applicants”

    • Anti-TIm

      Tired of these comments dude. Your government is no way going to do anything about the H1B cap if not increase it in the coming years.
      The silicon valley lobby is just too strong.

      • Tim – Would that not make all the products and services in US more expensive?
        Nancy – Doesn’t work like that.

        John Doe/SM – Please change your sources of information, very incorrect/generalist view.

        My 2 cent – No system is perfect but US companies are world leading and have come up with some great products, so H1 is actually working right? There are some unskilled who get in but a lot of skilled people must have arrived too right?

        Lack of education is a big factor in unemployment, if you aren’t an engineer/doctor, you shouldn’t be complaining about loosing your job to someone on H1.

        • H1-B visa program has RUINED the IT profession in the US. I personally know many who are unemployed due to this horrible program. This trend lowered salaries and benefits for IT workers as well as eliminated job opportunities in the US. Also, US workers become second class citizens in firms that embrace the H1-B visa model. And that H1-B clan is good at covering up mistakes and poor technical decisions.

          • Narender

            I totally agree. The H1 Program should be on hold for this year since the US unemployment rate is astronomical and doe not make sense now. when US citizens are themselves unemployed how the heck can we think of bringing IT folks from overseas?

    • Getting a degree is a lot easier in US because people who come here on F-1 study visa keep changing until they find the ones where you get certificate simply.
      Flooding wont stop because company who wanted to sponsor from India don’t pay USCIS fee $000s from their pocket I guess and they might refund back if person in US.

  1. Too Much Curry Gives The Squirts

    This should be no surprise, really. Indians and their companies use the ‘throw the cow defacation against the wall and see what sticks’ approach in pretty much every interaction. There have been numerous times where I’ve received a stack of resumes from ‘expert’ Indians, and the resumes were exactly the same with the exception of the name. Seriously. The fraud practiced by these tech workers is shocking. And the fact that there are NO repercussions is utterly enraging.

  2. James Bradley

    H1B is basically a way for big corporations to get cheap labor, and avoid paying American workers a fair wage. As a result, it is abusive to both the H1B worker as well as his/her American counterpart. Shut it down!

  3. I have to agree with other commentators that the program should just be shut down and revaluated after the crisis is over.

    Also, there shouldn’t be any stimulus money for companies that off shore their IT jobs.

  4. Dal Atwal

    There is a lot of abuse in this system. I have actually witnessed it for my own self. In many ways. The vetting process is just not there. The entire process is blinding used against both the USA worker, and other candidates all in name of the almighty $. President Trump as tried his best to put some checks, but more needs to be done to rethink this entire program.

  5. With the increasing unemployment because of COVID, the likes are being compared to pre-depression era – the H1B and their family members should be asked to go home by the State Department. It no longer makes sense to keep them when so many americans have lost their jobs and will continue to lose their jobs because of COVID.

    • Tamara

      Absolutely agree to shut the program down completely! American IT workers should have the opportunity first and foremost. My husband has been a software engineer for over 30 years and has seen all this first hand. He has had to fix and rewrite code so many hundreds of times that was not coherent!

  6. Mark Sullivan

    I have always been a U.S. citizen. How do I get some kind of visa that will allow me to emigrate to a country where I can start a career in engineering? I am willing to emigrate to almost any country where hiring decisions are not made on an irrational basis.

  7. This is for my foreign “Friends”, we who invented Data Processing in the mainframe environment don’t need your rate depressing help at all. Ask Boeing about your cheap expertise. You wrote software to crash their airplanes. Boeing has lost extensive public trust and will never recover to their pinnacle as a trusted aircraft company.

    Can you imagine the horrifying few seconds of terror being on one of the crashing planes? Being thrown onto the seat back in front of you. Watching as passengers in the back portion of the airplane go whizzing by in mid air to stack into a heap in the front of the airplane, in what was humanity. Then the crash and the compression of the bodies into an unrecognizable mush. Not a pretty sight.

    My advice to those Americans that have to work with these sometimes foul smelling people. It is advisable that you don’t use commodes used by these people, at least wipe these down before using in an attempt to avoid contacting their scabies. I’ve seen scabies infections drive people out of companies.

    The H1-B program?? Cancel it immediately. Let the originators, Microsoft and SunMicro Systems use these people remotely in India. Better yet, let them move their headquarters to India. Especially, the worldwide monopolist, Microsoft. Then, roundup and deport the !,000,000+ H1-Bs with expired visas, plus the current foreigners with valid ones back to their “home” in India. Load them on board Boeing 737 MAXs and bid them a permanent goodbye.

    Americans, if you work around H1-Bs with expired visas, consider calling I.C.E. and report these people who should be deported. Americans, rally and take back our nation and professions. Do this as a peaceful revolution; we do not want a violent one. Thank you.

    • Ron Capaldi

      And don’t forget their wives. All the department stores are filled with the wives of these imports in Sales positions – again taking good jobs away from Americans.

  8. So, 3 years into the Trump Presidency all that hope and change that he was going to crack down on an abusive labor system rigged to help Big Corp save money by using foreign labor was just a ruse to get your vote. Now that the Dem Congress and the Trumpublicans are ready to sign off on more Corporate Welfare because of the COVID19 debacle we already see that there’s not much difference between Trump and Bernie Sanders. What’s even more shocking is that nobody’s looking at the financial fall out of the healthcare cost this whole pandemic has caused now and in the near future. Everyone’s too busy to “get back to normal” which is a lie since we’re just propping up the banks to maintain the overvalued stock market.

    • James, there will be no getting back to normal. It will be a “new normal” far south from the one that was just experienced. You are correct about Trump, he favors foreign big business. Early in his Presidency – 2017, all of the foreign I.T. consulting companies scheduled a meting with Trump. There was never any announced agreement that cane out of that meeting. It is assumed, that they continue with business as usual. Cut consulting rates; place their people first, etc. See my comment immediately above yours. The American I.T. people, who invented Data Processing have laid down and given up. They refuse to fight. The damage done by H1-B is greater than the tea tax that initiated the American Revolution. But, our Congress, who, accepts under-the-table corruption money cannot be convinced to help us. It is unfortunate the 4th 911 plane crashed in the field in Pennsylvania.

  9. H1B visa program was a fraud from its very inception, there are no shortages of technically trained college graduates in this country. It has always been a way to get, marginally trained workers, mainly from India and China, to work in consulting and tech companies for lesser wages. The simple answer is do away with the program. Trump promised to do just that, which, like most of his promises, never happened.

    • Mk zaman

      When I see @ Apple store lots of young American kids are working with $20 per hour with a college degree and their job has taken with higher salary by the H1 visa holders. Our kids should get opportunity to fill those positions. Now I heard they are also taking interviews and creating a situation to bring more people with HI visas. Thousands of American kids with their strong academic background not getting jobs.

  10. The H1b visa needs to have per-country caps consistent with the per-country caps on Green Cards and better audits. The lying and cheating is out of hand. The intended use as a temporary help for US companies has not worked out.

  11. Daniel Lark

    They want to be in position to fill positions for employers who will look to hire hourly workers instead of returning salaried staff to keep costs down until Revenue is back up. Vultures circling the carcass of I.T. departments.