Time nears for H-1B Visa registration
The window to file H-1B visas is coming up on April 1. What do employers need to know about new system changes for 2019?
The H-1B petitions filed in 2019 will continue to be capped at 65,000 for employees with a bachelor’s degree or higher, with an additional 20,000 spots going to employees with advanced degrees (master’s degree or higher). This year the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) unveiled a new regulation aimed at increasing the number of individuals with advanced degrees who win spots through the lottery. Individuals with advanced degrees will get to participate in the general lottery (65,000 spots) first. Those who do not get a spot in the general lottery will get a second chance when the advanced degree lottery (20,000 spots) is run. This is a reversal of the order in which the lottery has previously been conducted.
The application process will also change in 2020, what can employers expect to see next year?
In addition to the new regulations for the April 1 filing date, USCIS announced a new application system that will take effect for the lottery held in 2020. In April 2020, workers subject to the 65,000 visa cap, as well as others with advanced degrees who are lottery exempt, will fill out a streamlined form rather than submitting a full petition to USCIS. Only those selected by the lottery will be required to complete a full H-1B petition. The goal is to streamline the application process, and it could potentially save employers money since they will only need to file a full petition if their worker is selected in the lottery. It is also designed to create a more efficient system by eliminating the need for USCIS to compile and return 100,000’s of petitions that were not selected in the lottery.
What can employers start doing now to prepare for the registration window?
Employers should start the process for filing new H-1B applications for workers who they hope to move to H-1B status. USCIS will begin accepting H-1B quota-subject filings on April 1. USCIS only is required to accept applications for five business days, so petitions must be submitted during the first few days of April. If USCIS receives more applications than the cap number during the first five days of April (which it has every year since 2013), it will cease accepting applications on the fifth day. Because of these tight deadlines and the time needed to prepare H-1B petitions, employers should start gathering information and begin filling out the petitions as soon as possible.
Paula Burkes, Business writer
Published The Oklahoman, March 15, 2019