Concerned about the most recent H-1B changes and announcements? Here are three things to know now.
1. Electronic Registration Requirement – Suspended Until 2020
USCIS announced that the “new electronic registration requirement requires petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption, to first electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period.” (FederalRegister.gov)
Only those whose registrations are selected will be eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. USCIS expects that the electronic registration requirement, once implemented, will reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process for USCIS and petitioners.
With the current system – all those seeking an H-1B visa need to file a full petition, without the guarantee of being chosen as part of the lottery system. There are only 85,000 H-1B visa slots available each fiscal year. Last year close to 190,000 H-1B applications were filed. The odds of being chosen as part of this lottery are not in any individual’s favor. With the move to electronic pre-registration beginning next year, the time consuming, full petition filing can be delayed until after one is chosen through the lottery. Being chosen as one of the 85,000 doesn’t guarantee approval – all petitions are still reviewed fully.
2. New rules offer a change for advanced degree earners
Media are discussing the new lottery “draw” as though it allows those with advanced degree petitions greater opportunity to secure an H-1B visa. Starting this year, those with advanced degrees, will be included with all petitions needed to reach the H-1B cap of 65,000 first. Once that group has been chosen, USCIS will then select further advanced degree petitions – an additional 20,000. Mathematically it increases the opportunity for those with advanced degrees to attain H-1B status.
3. Suspension of premium processing ended January 28.
USCIS had previously suspended H-1B premium processing requests. There is a significant backlog concerning H-1B petitions. Some applications from last year’s cap for positions that were supposed to have begun October 1, 2018 have still not been adjudicated.
USCIS announced that the suspension of premium processing ended January 28, but there are a number of exceptions. Please see the USCIS Official Statement (below) for qualifications:
“USCIS will resume premium processing on Monday, Jan. 28, for all fiscal year (FY) 2019 H-1B cap petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (the “master’s cap”). Petitioners who have received requests for evidence (RFEs) for pending FY 2019 cap petitions should include their RFE response with any request for premium processing they may submit.
H-1B visas provide employers with skilled workers for a wide range of specialty occupations. When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time. If we do not take certain adjudicative action within the 15‑calendar day processing time, USCIS refunds the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continues with expedited processing of the petition. This service is only available for pending petitions, not new submissions, because we have already received enough petitions to meet the FY 2019 cap.
The previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for all other categories of H-1B petitions to which it applied. We plan to resume premium processing for the remaining categories of H‑1B petitions as agency workloads permit.
We will continue to notify the public via uscis.gov when we begin accepting premium processing for other categories of H-1B petitions.”
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