FY 2020 H1-B UPDATES: Advanced Degree Cap Met As Well
MASTER’S CAP MET
USCIS conducted the second phase of the H1-B visa lottery and announced that the Master’s cap was also met for the FY 2020 H1-B visas. A combined total of 201,011 H-1B petitions were received out of which 65,000 is reserved for the regular H1-B cap and 20,000 for the advanced degree holding petitioners.
As per the new system of the reversed lottery, USCIS first conducted a random computer generated selection of all beneficiaries and included applicants eligible for the advanced degree exemption. In the second round, the agency selected petitioners to fill the quota of advanced degree exemption from the remaining eligible petitions. This new system is projected to increase the probability of advanced degree holders of getting through the H1-B lottery by 16%. Now the anticipation for electronic receipts begin!
USCIS continues to accept petitions that are exempt from the cap.
CAP MET – NOW, WHAT’S NEXT?
Now that the cap for the regular category of H1-B petitions have been met, what should employers and applicants expect? The Lottery.
USCIS is busy with the data entry of these 65,000 petitions. Once it has all of it in the system, they will place them in the first cycle of lottery to meet the quota for the regular category of H1-B petitions. As per the announcement made by USCIS pertaining to the reversal in lottery process, the petitioners with an advanced degree from the US will get a chance in the first round of the lottery and if not selected, will be placed in the second round to meet the quota for the cap exemption of 20,000. This translates to 5,340 foreigner workers with a Master’s degree from the US having a higher chance of getting through the lottery. Given the new system, we should not expect USCIS to make any immediate announcements about the advanced-degree cap until after the regular category lottery has been concluded so that the remaining names can be added it.
- Given now that the cap has been met and the selection process is underway, those petitioners who had applied with premium processing for H1-B change of status should soon receive email filing receipts and expect the 15-day adjudication of the same after May 20, 2019.
- If all goes well, this should be completed by June 4, 2019.
- Petitioners should either receive some form of direction by then; this could be either an approval or a denial.
- Seeing the steep trend of escalated Request for Evidence (RFEs) sent out last year, employers should anticipate RFEs by June, if applicable to them. And be ready with responses in order to save time.
- The adjudication of RFEs take additional time and companies planning projects based on the October 1, 2019 timeline would be advised to have a Plan B to mitigate costs of delay.
- Petitioners who did not go through premium processing will hear from USCIS only after a few more weeks post this.
- All upgrades including adjudications on remaining regular H1-B cap filings is anticipated to begin by June 2019. If the process goes through faster, this could happen sooner as well.
- In the meantime, the petitions that were not selected in the lottery will be returned along with their filing fees.
LOTTERY CAP REACHED
The maximum mandated number of 65,000 regular H1-B work visas for FY 2020 have been received by USCIS and any not accepted will be returned along with the filing fees. The final set of the 20,000 H-1B visas reserved for petitioners with advanced degree is yet to be determined, according to USCIS. To be noted for this time’s lottery system, the process has been reversed wherein candidates with the Master’s degree from a US university will be allotted a turn in the lottery first before the others are picked. This will give them a 16% higher chance of getting a H1-B visa.
Who can still apply for H1-B Visa?
Having said that, USCIS continues to accept petitions for the following H1-B categories:
- For those looking to change employers or work concurrently for another H1-B position;
- For those looking to change terms of employment with current employer; or
- For those looking for a H1-B extension.
Check to see if your application has all the new requirements as stipulated in a recent announcement about new changes in H1-B petitions.
LOTTERY ORDER, PREMIUM PROCESSING AND DATA HUB
Fy 2020 H1-B season is upon us and the USCIS has opened its gates up yesterday, April 1 to accept new H1-B petitions. Like in previous years, the total cap of 85,000 is expected to reach in a couple of days. We should soon see a missive from USCIS announcing that the numbers have been met and that they will not be accepting any more work visa petitions. Ensuring you prepare your H1-B application with attention to every detail is pertinent. Here are tips for H1-B petition to help you this season with the new changes in mind.
What to expect in the FY 2020 H1-B Season?
Very recently three consultants were arrested for substantive visa fraud involving the submissions of H1-B visa applications for jobs that were non-existent. They did this to get a competitive edge over other competing consultancies given that there is a limitation on the number of applications each year. This is a warning to everyone participating in the upcoming lottery:
- Order of Application: The foremost need of the hour is to follow the laid-out regulations to the T. The primary needs are appropriate academic qualification and the need to fit the role of a specialty occupation.
- Documentation: The steep rise in Request for Evidence (RFEs) is the past year is indicative that each petition be well equipped with everything that substantiates the petition. All documental claims should be backed with evidences and affidavits wherever applicable. These should be placed in a sequential order for easy access and topped with a ‘Contents’ Page that lists everything in the application in order.
- Lottery Order: Since starting this year, the lottery order has been reversed to favor petitioners holding a US Master’s degree, there will be bigger slot for those petitioners this lottery season. Having said that, employers who have such candidates should ensure they are placed in the lottery with all supporting documentation describing their academic qualifications. They have a higher chance of winning the lottery this year.
- Premium Processing: USCIS has announced premium processing in a two-phased step this season. While they focus on data entry of all submissions, any one requesting a change in status will get first dibs at premium processing in May and then it will open up to the others, approximately by June. Since this is known beforehand, employers and immigration lawyers ought to be prepared for this and apply accordingly.Premium processing will give an adjudication within 15 working days
- H1-B Employer Data Hub: Lastly, going forward data pertaining to all employers who employ foreign workers on H1-B visas will now be available for public consumption through a data hub hosted by USCIS. Data can be mined going back to FY 2009 and by employer name, city, state or NAICS codes. This will give all future petitioners access to potential employers with successful approval ratings.
Stay tuned to this space this entire H1-B season to keep up with the latest on all things H1-B!