The coronavirus pandemic coupled with some of the most extreme immigration regulations imposed by the current U.S. government, Yr. 2020 is marked as one of the most tumultuous years in the recent history. Border closures and travel restrictions brought immigration to a near standstill. Request for evidence and consequent denials have increased exponentially ending up in over 113,000 H1-B petition denials by mid-2020.
While President-elect Joe Biden has a few encouraging ideas improve immigration to the U.S. we won’t know which of the existing norms will be overturned through Executive order or will need Congress intervention to repeal.
President-Elect Joe Biden’s Immigration Promise
More H1-Bs, Lesser Backlogs
To start off 2021 on the right foot, the following five things should be kept in mind when filing for the H1B 2022-cap:
New H1-B Rules
Many new regulations were proposed and most of them were ruled out by the U.S. district courts. Many of these were restrictive in nature and curbed H1-B visa applications, qualifying interview waivers and added entry bans.
Increasing the minimum wage and narrowing the definition of “specialty occupation” was intended to make it harder for H1-B dependent employers to find skilled labor. While the US courts have thrown out these proposals, DHS does intend to implement the rule that requires sponsoring employers to prove that a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for similar positions at their organization.
This rule will be applicable to H-1B petitions filed on or after Dec. 7, 2020.
Finally, DHS has proposed to change the H-1B lottery to a wage-based selection. It is yet to be determined if this will pass and go into effect in Yr. 2021.
Heightened Request For Evidence (RFE) For H1-B Petitions
Yr 2020 continued to seeing an increase in RFEs where USCIS stalls the adjudication of the petition for want of additional documentation or proof of evidence. This year saw almost 40% increase in the number of RFEs issued.
We should expect to continue seeing this trend in 2021.
H1-B Electronic Registration
Last year, USCIS rolled out an additional leg in the H1-B lottery cap process. Sponsoring employers will now have to electronically register and pay a $10 registration fee first. Once USCIS selects the required number of petitions, they can then apply with the H1-B application within 90 days.
The date for the initial registration period in 2021 have not been released by USCIS yet. Stay tuned to this space for the correct dates for H1-B registration in 2021.
Reversal of H-1B petition selection
Another new system was the reversal of how the regular H1-B petitioners will be selected and then the cap-exempt Master’s degree holders will be selected. This order reversal will allow 13% increased chance for applicant’s who have a Masters from the US to get selected.
Premium Processing Fees Increased
USCIS has raised premium processing fees and expanded it to a wider number of categories. The new fee of premium processing is $2,500, if your petition is eligible.