Glitches and Gremlins in USCIS’ New H-1B Registration Process
Yesterday, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) initiated a bold new experiment in their annual cap-subject H-1B selection process. And by many accounts, that experiment has gone a bit haywire.
The overall premise behind the change was relatively simple. Organizations are now required to submit a registration for each qualified cap-subject H-1B visa beneficiary before filing the actual petition with the USCIS. If the H-1B registration submissions exceed the statutory limits, USCIS will then conduct a computer-generated lottery to determine which registrations may proceed with filing. Once a registration has been accepted, petitioners will have 90 days to file the H-1B petition.
The USCIS has touted this new H-1B registration process as a significant costs-saver for employers, since organizations now only need to file H-1B petitions (and pay the ever-increasing H-1B filing fees) for individuals who are actually selected via this new registration step. The agency also promised that the “technical” elements of this process – namely, the H-1B registration portal – would be well-tested and ultimately take petitioners 30 minutes per response.
Spoiler alert: that hasn’t been the experience for most of us thus far – especially if you’re an attorney who is trying to initiate the process on behalf of your client.
Below are a few of the most commonly experienced (and reported) glitches with the USCIS’s H-1B registration process thus far. Some of these have already been resolved (as noted below), while others are still being discovered.
The passcode for your client is not being displayed at the end of the G-28 data entry wizard
As of Monday 3/2, this issue appears to be resolved for most.
System reports that it “could not find the G-28”
Help, we have a G-28 on the loose! This appears to be a somewhat isolated issue which can usually be resolved by starting over (gulp)
Your client indicates that G-28 passcode is not valid
This issue seems fairly widespread, regardless of how the client registered in their USCIS.gov account. One possible resolution is to make sure your client is entering (copy/pasting) the correct code. In the worst case scenario, you can have your client initiate the registration in their account (i.e., no G-28 involved). If selected, you can then make sure to file your G-28 with the H-1B petition.
After completing the G-28, the “Eligibility Information for Attorney or Accredited Representative” section on the PDF summary indicates that attorney is not eligible to practice law.
While this particular glitch seems most disturbing (especially from an attorney’s perspective), it would appear that the USCIS simply has an incorrect mapping or description in their summary document template. The question on the G-28 wizard is phrased as “Are you subject to any order disbarring, suspending, enjoining, restraining, or otherwise restricting you in the practice of law.” And most attorneys will of course answer “No”. Which is exactly what is appearing on the PDF, next to the legend, Eligibility to Practice Law.
After clicking the “Pay and Submit” button on the penultimate H-1B registration screen, the system will unceremoniously display the dreaded “Page not found” error message.
As of Monday, 3/2, this issue is appearing sporadically.
After client finished their registration account, they receive a message stating, “The H-1B Registration period is closed. The H-1B Registration period was from March 1, 2020 to March 20, 2020. We are no longer processing H-1B Registrations. If you submitted registrations, you can view your history below.”
Well, at least we know now what the message should say in the future. I’ve only seen this occur once, so hopefully it is an isolated registration issue.
Blank page after logging in (either petitioner or attorney account)
This behavior was observed throughout 3/1 and 3/2, and likely has more to do with the fact that the USCIS has had to respond in real-time to the variety of technical glitches (mentioned above). Some practitioners have reported resolving this by clearing their browser’s cache and cookies.
If you are experiencing a problem with the H-1B registration tool, you can send an email to the USCIS Public Engagement office at Public.firstname.lastname@example.org.