USCIS Reaches the H-1B Cap for 2020

The H-1B program provides an avenue for businesses in the United States to bring foreign nationals into the country to work. But, not just any foreign national will qualify for an H-1B visa. H-1B visas apply only to foreign workers with at least a bachelor’s degree and to occupations that require “highly specialized knowledge.” For example, H-1B visa holders often work in the fields of science, engineering, information technology, teaching and accounting. Making H-1B visas even more selective, the United States Congress has mandated a cap for the number of H-1B visas that will be offered every year. The cap is currently 65,000. There is, however, an exemption from the cap for an additional 20,000 foreign nationals who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Of course, the number of applications from businesses in the United States for H-1B visas greatly exceeds the cap. The open filing period for H-1Bs began on April 1, and by April 5, USCIS announced that they had received enough applications to meet the cap of 65,000. In total, USCIS received 201,011 H-1B petitions during the filing period. Due to the large number of applications, the applicants that will receive H-1B visas are chosen […]
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USCIS Launches H-1B Employer Data Hub

On April 1, 2019, USCIS launched the H-1B Employer Data Hub, a search tool/information base that provides information to the public. Some employers in the United States use the H-1B program to temporarily employ foreign workers in certain occupations. The Data Hub helps the public to view which employers petition for H-1B workers and calculate approval and denial rates. A petitioner can be searched by fiscal year, NAICS code, employer name, city, state or ZIP code. Data for individual fiscal years is available to download on the H-1B Employer Data Hub Files page. USCIS has also created the Understanding Our H-1B Employer Data Hub page to help the public use the data hub and understand the terminology used within.  USCIS will provide quarterly updates and annual releases of the data and anticipates updating the data hub on a quarterly basis. For example, data for the first quarter of a fiscal year (October through December), will be provided in April of that fiscal year.  If you have questions on the H-1B category or are interested in applying for an H-1B visa, be sure to contact Berardi Immigration Law today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys!
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H-1B Notice Requirement Compliance by Electronic Posting

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) regulations require all H-1B employers to maintain a list of records regarding the H-1B workers that they employ. These records are referred to as the public access file, or PAF. The PAF includes documentation of such information as the rate of pay for the H-1B workers and a summary of the benefits offered to H-1B workers, among others. One important record that must be included in the PAF is documentation that certain notice requirements were satisfied. The DOL regulations demand that notice be given to U.S. workers on or within 30 days before the employer files the Labor Condition Application or LCA with the Department of Labor. The LCA is a form employers must file with the DOL Employment and Training Administration (ETA) on behalf of employees applying for a non-immigrant H-1B work visa. The DOL provides specific guidance as to what information the notice must include. For instance, the notice must include the number of H-1B non-immigrants the employer is seeking to employ, the wages offered, the period of employment, the locations at which the H-1B nonimmigrants will be employed, as well as other information. While the H-1B employer has no control […]
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Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions Submitted Before December 21, 2018 Resumes

In March of 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended premium processing for all H-1B petitions subject to the 2019 cap. The reason for the suspension was to provide an opportunity for the agency to work through a backlog of petitions and thereby reduce overall H-1B processing times. Many H-1Bs had gone unprocessed due to the high volume of petitions USCIS was receiving, especially premium processing requests. In August of 2018, USCIS extended its suspension of premium processing of cap-subject H-1B petitions even further. And, beginning September 11, 2018, USCIS expanded its temporary suspension to include certain additional H-1B petitions. Things changed, however, on February 19, 2019: USCIS resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions filed on or before December 21, 2018. The temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for H-1B petitions that were filed on or after December 22, 2018. Now that the suspension has been lifted, USCIS warns that petitioners seeking premium processing service may receive a transfer notice for a pending H-1B petition. In that case, the petitioner must submit the premium processing request, along with a copy of your transfer notice, to the service center now handling the petition. When an H-1B […]
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Proposed H-4 EAD Rescission

One advantage of the H-1B visa is that immediate family members of the H-1B visa holder may apply for an H-4 visa, which will allow them to lawfully stay in the United States. What is more, the holder of an H-4 visa, who is seeking employment based on lawful permanent resident status, is eligible to acquire an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and work in the United States. H-4 visa holders have been eligible to work in the United States since 2015. Recently, however, things have begun to change for H-4 visa holders. In October of 2018, the Department of Homeland Security released its Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions and Regulatory Plan, which provides the public with an overview of possible regulations that are in the works. The regulations featured in the Unified Agenda are only aspirational, but they nonetheless communicate a sense of what direction future regulations may be headed. One DHS proposed regulation that appears in the Fall 2018 Unified Agenda is titled “Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization.” This proposed regulation is intended to amend the 2015 rule. The rule would bar H-4 visa holders from eligibility […]
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DHS Posts Final Rule Announcing Important Changes to the H-1B Visa Program

Today, the Department of Homeland Security posted a final rule amending regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. As a reminder, cap-subject petitions are filed on April 1 of each year for individuals who are applying for H-1B status for the first time. To read more about the general H-1B visa process, click here. Beginning April 1, 2019, USCIS is changing the way that it typically reviews H-1B cap petitions. Some important background information first: The government typically issues 65,000 H-1B visa numbers for all first-time applicants, plus an additional 20,000 visa numbers for individuals who obtain a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution. Traditionally, USCIS has selected the 20,000 master’s cap applicants first, and whoever wasn’t chosen in the first selection was then added to the pool for the 65,000 remaining visa numbers to be chosen. In 2017, President Trump issued the “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order, which specifically mentioned the H-1B program and directed the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to “suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.” To learn more about this executive order, click here. […]
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Breaking News: Premium Processing Now Available for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Cases

After months of suspension, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume premium processing for fiscal year 2019 H-1B petitions as of January 28, 2019. This includes the advanced degree exemption cases, often referred to as the “master’s cap.” In 2018, USCIS announced that H-1B premium processing would be suspended until February 2019 to reduce delays in processing and to address the backlog present in this highly sought-after category. While fiscal year 2019 cap cases and master’s cap cases will be eligible for premium processing going forward, USCIS noted that this service will remain suspended for all other H-1B petitions that were impacted by the original memo outlining the parameters of the suspension. Currently, premium processing is only available for pending fiscal year 2019 H-1B petitions, as the cap has already been met. USCIS plans to resume premium processing for all remaining H-1B petitions as the agency’s workload permits.  The H-1B category provides work authorization for specialty occupations and receives many petitions every year. Premium processing creates a fast track allowing applicants to receive an answer on a petition within 15 calendar days, giving applicants peace of mind.  If you are interested in applying for an H-1B visa or would […]
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