Predictions For FY 2020’s H1-B Visa Season

It’s that time of the year again when employers looking to petition for their prospective H1-B employees start assembling a documents file for them. As each year goes by, and US administrations change, so do the requirements for each petition and the rules surrounding them.

The Trump administration has initiated the Buy American, Hire American rule to which follows ways to curb the hiring of foreign workers and give priority to local talent. However, a lot of these proposed changes are in different stages – either being brought to the Congress floor for the final vote or being opened to public for commenting. As a prospective H1-B petitioner for 2020, what should you anticipate this year? Here are some of our predictions for the H1-B lottery cap for FY2020:

  • More H1-B petitions than capacity: You should anticipate a massive submission of petitions this year that will overshoot the cap of 65,000 and 20,000. Last year’s H1-B season saw 190,098 petitions submitted within the first couple of days of the season opening in April.
  • Reversal in Lottery process: Although not announced yet, we predict that the Master’s cap lottery will be conducted after the regular cap of 65,000 cap this time. This is to ensure that H1-B holders having an advanced degree from a US university get a higher chance of getting through the lottery system. This translates to a 16% surge in highly qualified workers getting through.
  • Restricting the issuance of H1-B visas: Entry-level and Level 1 workers should expect scrutiny with a fine-toothed comb over every aspect of their petition. Qualifications matching the job requirement will be a major factor for evaluation.
  • H4s Applying for H1-B: With the proposal to eliminate the H4 EAD underway, work permit for spouses, these specialty job occupants are likely to rush towards applying for H1-B this year in order to avoid possible disruption in their employment should the EAD option get eliminated. This category would be another source of new H1-B applicants this year. Is everyone H4 EAD holder eligible to apply for a H1-B?Find out how to transition from H4 to H1-B visa
  • Additional Documentation: When preparing a petition with the required documentation, there will be added emphasis to backup each one with evidence and support documentation. For example, a technical evaluation will be required with solid documentation demonstrating how the applicant’s coursework is directly connected to the job description to feed the query about qualification and specialty occupation.
  • RFEs: The Request for Evidence (RFE) will continue to surge and most petitioners should anticipate to get one if last year’s patterns are followed wherein more than 73% of the H1-B applicants could not join their job roles timely.
  • H1-B Visa Extensions: Providing H-1B extensions beyond the 6-year limit will continue albeit in one year increments. Although there was a proposal to deport H1-B holders awaiting permanent residency processing and not give visa extensions, this has been rescinded for now.
  • Premium Processing: USCIS recently announced resuming premium processing for all eligible applicants. Getting a final result within 15 days should help mitigate backlogs and these petitioners should be able to start in their job roles timely.
  • Pre-registration of H1-B: Although been submitted to Congress for a final vote, the proposed rule of electronically pre-registering each H1-B applicant may not go into effect this year. However, should the rule pass Congress, it should be in effect for the lottery for FY 2021.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting new H1-B visa petitions for FY 2020 by April 1. This will cover both the regular 65,000 cap for applicants with bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and 20,000 additional H-1B visas for individuals who have a master’s degree (or higher) from an accredited U.S. university. Employers should identify foreign workers who may benefit from the H1-B visa. If need be, talk to an immigration lawyer to determine eligibility help prepare the H1-B document checklists well in advance.