If you are overwhelmed by the many new policies and mandatory regulations rolled out for H1B applicants in 2019 and don’t know how to keep track of each requirement, stay tuned to this page for the latest updates and all pertinent news pertaining to the H1B, non-immigrant US work visa and be better prepared for the H1B cap lottery for Fy. 2021.
H1B Visa November 2019 Updates
USCIS announced the final rule for the $10 registration fee meant for the H1B applicants for FY 2021. Going forward, employers submitting petitions for H1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption will first have to register their H1B intent in an electronic registration system for a non-refundable fee of $10 first. This will be in addition to the total filing fee of nearly $4000 per application, depending upon whether the petitioner opts for premium processing or not among other things. A registration period will be announced around mid-March next year.
H1B Visa October 2019 Updates
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is going to increase the fee to request premium processing for certain employment-based petitions. Effective immediately, the fee for premium processing is going up by $30 to $1,440. The current fee is $1,410. This increase in premium processing fee to $1,440 is applicable to Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
- Another trend noticed at USCIS is insisting that H1B dominant employers first prove that there is sufficient work for the entire three-year term of the visa before USCIS can grant the visa for the stipulated three years. While in most cases this seems hard to prove, it also seems unnecessary for in-house employees who can be shuffled between projects according to policy.
- On April 1, 2019 USCIS received 201,000 H1B petitions for a total of 85,000 seats. By the end of the third quarter, USCIS rejected more than 17% of H1B visa petitions. With H1B denials at an all-time high, it is apparent that the Trump government is pushing his agenda to hire locally within the US as much as possible. The biggest brunt of this is faced by the consultancy companies in India and big names providing the most IT services to the US like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro which are the only ones left standing.
H1B Visa May to September 2019 Updates
- Premium Processing was rolled out in two phases in order to counter the delays happened in the past. First applicants with extension were given a chance and then all cap-subject petitions were accepted under premium processing.
- A memo released by USCIS emphasizes the evaluation criteria before granting an H1B for the many professions that might fall under the specialty occupation. Computer programmers are put under the spotlight and questioned whether their skill-set, wage-level and work-site location qualified as a specialty occupation as defined by USCIS or not. Entry-level computer programmers might not qualify as a specialty occupation and consequently for an H1-B employment visa. Each petition will be evaluated on its own merits.
- Redefine ‘Specialty Occupation’ & ‘Employer-employee relationship’: Come August, USCIS plans to relate ‘Specialty Occupation’ with higher degrees, higher salaries and alluding to a higher pedestal for the jobs under the specialty banner.
- Employer-employee relationship to emphasis more control of the worker by the employee should he be working at any other location than the primary petitioning employer’s, i.e. third-party sites. Substantiating evidence in the form of contracts and letters from end-clients will be now expected.
H1B Visa February – April 2019 Updates
- Annual Lottery System: FY2020, people with an advanced degree from the US will be given two chances to figure in the lottery system giving them a 16% higher chance of getting selected. Also, starting FY 2021 employers will have to first register, get a code of approval and then submit a H1-B petition within the next 60 days for the lottery.
- After the H1B cap lottery, only three Indian companies ranked in the top ten to get H1B visas. With 50% of their applications for the H-1B visa rejected, these barely made the cut on the list of H1B recipients. To get perspective, TCS used to have a rejection rate of 6% in FY2015 compared to the 37% in FY2019.
- Site visits increased and legal immigrants especially H1B and L visa holders, will be facing site visits from USCIS officials under the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP). Employers who are foreign-workforce dependent should anticipate these targeted site visits. Another target will be employers who have team-members who work at off-site locations and may not be available at the employers’ main office. Both employers and employees should be vigilant about these visits and prepare a clean game-plan in the event USCIS officers make a visit.