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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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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USCIS Report on the Characteristics of H-1B Workers for Fiscal Year 2015

On March 17, 2016, USCIS presented a report titled, “Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers” for fiscal year 2015. Fiscal year 2015 ran from Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 30, 2015. The report was originally provided to four members of Congress, including The Honorable Charles Grassley, The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, The Honorable Robert W. Goodlatte and The Honorable John Conyers Jr. The report includes some of the following highlights: The number of H-1B petitions filed increased 9 percent from 318,824 in fiscal year 2014 to 348,669 in fiscal year 2015. The number of H-1B petitions approved decreased 13 percent from 315,857 in fiscal year 2014 to 275,317 in fiscal year 2015. 71 percent of H-1B petitions approved in fiscal year 2015 were for workers between the ages of 25 and 34. 45 percent of H-1B petitions approved in fiscal year 2015 were for workers with a bachelor’s degree, 44 percent had a master’s degree, 7 percent had a doctorate degree, and 3 percent were for workers with a professional degree. 66 percent of H-1B petitions approved in fiscal year 2015 were for workers in computer-related occupations. The median salary of beneficiaries of approved petitions increased from $75,000 for fiscal […]
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Don’t Delay! H-1B Season is Here!

H-1B season is once again upon us – H-1B petitions should be filed by April 1, 2016, so don’t delay! Berardi Immigration Law assists numerous clients each year with the preparation and filing of these petitions, and we are now accepting H-1B cases. Each year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allots 65,000 regular H-1B cap numbers, plus an additional 20,000 advanced-degree cap exemptions for those with a master’s degree earned at a U.S. college or university. If there are enough cases to meet or exceed the cap, the filing period ends after five days. Last year, the government received over 200,000 petitions, so it is of the utmost importance to have your petitions prepared as soon as possible. We encourage any employers who wish to be ready to file by April 1, 2016 to start the process now. Starting this process early benefits all parties — having the petitions in ahead of time gives the attorney the necessary time to fully understand and review the case and allows the employer and the employee more time to acquire necessary documentation. It’s important for employers to identify current and future employees who will need H-1B status. These often include recent college graduates […]
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H-1B Basics: Public Access File

Maintaining a public access file is an integral part of complying with H-1B laws. The purpose of a public access file is to create a singular file in the employer’s place of business that contains documents that prove the employer is satisfying the minimum legal H-1B requirements. Once a public access file compliance system is in order, maintenance is quick and easy. Unfortunately, many companies wrongfully do not keep a public access file which could have serious legal consequences in the event of an audit. Tips for Maintaining a Public Access File It is important to remember not to include any unnecessary documents in the public access file unless they are specifically required. Since the Department of Labor and the general public have the right to inspect your company’s public access files, unnecessary documents included in the public access file could compromise employee privacy. Here are some example of documents that should not be included in the public access file: a copy of the completed H-1B petition, company financials, confidential employee information such as academic records, employment history, or disciplinary records. Every H-1B employee’s public access file should be separate from their personal file. Checklist of Documents to Include in […]
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H-1B Cap Premium Processing to Begin on April 27

USCIS has announced that it will begin premium processing for cap subject H-1B petitions requesting premium processing, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher, on April 27, 2015. USCIS also announced that it would temporarily adjust its premium processing practice due to the historic number of premium processing cases received and also due to the cap being met in the first five business days of the filing season. For H-1B petitions not subject to the cap and for any other visa classification, the 15-day processing period for premium processing service begins on the date USCIS receives the request. However, for cap subject H-1B petitions, including advanced degree exemption petitions, the 15-day processing set by 8 CFR 103.7(e)(2) will begin on April 27, regardless of the date on the Form I-797 receipt notice, which indicates the date that the premium processing fee was received. USCIS provides the premium processing service for certain employment-based petitions and guarantees a 15 calendar day processing time. If you are interested in applying for an employment-based petition, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys!
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USCIS Receives Record Number of H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2016

On April 7, 2015, USCIS announced that it had received enough H-1B petitions to satisfy the statutory cap of 65,000 visas and also the extra 20,000 visas allotted for individuals with advanced degrees (the “master’s cap”). At that time, USCIS gave no figure for the total number of H-1B petitions received, but expectations ran high; USCIS received 124,000 petitions in 2013 and 172,500 petitions in 2014. Yesterday, USCIS announced that the agency had received a record-shattering 233,000 H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2016! During H-1B selection for FY 2016, USCIS used a computer-generated lottery to first select 20,000 petitions under the advanced degree exemption. Petitions that were not chosen under this exemption were then included in the general pool from which 65,000 others are chosen. Due to the sheer number of H-1B petitions submitted, only about 36 percent will be chosen and approved this year. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees. USCIS has also announced that it will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 11, 2015. Meanwhile, USCIS will continue to accept and process other cap-exempt petitions, including current H-1B workers who have been previously counted against the cap. […]
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