News & Announcements

H-1B Visa Filing to Open With Changes

Posted Tuesday, March 5, 2019 6:26 am

Beginning April 1, employers will be able to file H-1B visa petitions with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) for temporary work visas for foreign professionals.

The H-1B Program

The H-1B Program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.  H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology.

New H-1B visas are limited each year to 65,000 (“regular cap”) plus an additional 20,000 for individuals with U.S. graduate degrees (“advanced degree exemption”). USCIS randomly selects 85,000 professionals whose petitions will be reviewed.

New Rule

As discussed in a previous News Digest Article about the then-proposed changes to the H-1B lottery system, the final rule (1) reverses the order of selection so that petitions for the H-1B regular cap would be selected before the advanced degree exemption and (2) imposes a preliminary electronic registration requirement.

In response to concerns about the new registration system, however, the electronic registration requirement will not be implemented for this filing season.  It is expected to be available for the April 2020 filings (FY 2021).

Employers should be working with legal counsel and H-1B candidates now to finalize all paperwork necessary to file a petition.  The cap is usually met within a few days after the filing period opens, so petitions should be filed as soon as possible after the filing period opens on April 1.

USCIS invites you to participate in a teleconference on Thursday, March 7, from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern to discuss H-1B nonimmigrant petitions.  For more information on the teleconference, click here.

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