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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Hiring H-1B Employees? Regulation Compliance Reminders

Public Access File When employing a foreign worker in H-1B status, there are a number of Department of Labor (DOL) regulations which must be carefully adhered to. Importantly, H-1B employers are required to maintain a file that is available for public inspection. This is referred to as the “Public Access File” (PAF). A complete PAF is a vital component of employment-related immigration compliance. For example, employers must make documentation relating to any and all Labor Condition Applications (“LCA” or “Form 9035”) available in the PAF. This must be done within one working day after the date of filing the LCA with the DOL. Any member of the public may request access to the file, and the employer must make the file available to a requestor within one working day of the request. For reference, an LCA is a form that is filed with the DOL, which requires employers to attest that certain H-1B requirements have been satisfied. The LCA must be signed by an employer and certified by the U.S. Department of Labor before an H-1B petition can be filed. Berardi Immigration Law provides clients with all starting documentation for a PAF, along with clear directions on maintaining these documents […]
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Need for H-1B Visa Lottery Reignites Call for Immigration Reform

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that once again an H-1B visa lottery must be held to determine which H-1B cap-subject petitions filed for prospective H-1B workers will make it to the adjudication phase. USCIS confirms that on the first day it can count petitions, they received more than enough to reach the 85,000 maximum H-1B visas that are available in fiscal year 2015. This number is comprised of 65,000 “regular” cap visas and an additional 20,000 “master cap” visas set aside for foreign nationals who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Because of the surge of petitions that were filed, a lottery will be held to determine which petitions received in the five-day filing period, the minimum time USCIS can accept petitions, will actually be considered. All others will be rejected without review. Lotteries have been held in previous years including fiscal years 2008, 2009 and 2014. AILA President Doug Stump offered the following comments (AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 14040742): “There is a serious flaw in the laws governing H-1B visas. Instead of reacting to market needs, we discard the applications of tens of thousands of potentially job-creating immigrants every year,” Stump noted. “I’m frustrated that […]
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H-1B Petitions are in the Hands of USCIS … So Now What?

These last few weeks of “H-1B season” have been a particularly busy time for immigration practitioners. As of Tuesday, April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting H-1B petitions for the 2015 fiscal year. Under a law that hasn’t been touched by Congress in years, there are only 65,000 new slots available for employers to hire university educated foreign professionals, plus another 20,000 for employers hiring foreign nationals who have graduated from U.S. advanced-degree programs. The allotment of H-1B’s has been exhausted earlier and earlier within each fiscal year. Last year, more than 130,000 H-1B applications were filed by employers for 85,000 slots on the very first day of filing, resulting in the now infamous lottery. Once your H-1B petition is in the hands of the government, here is what you can expect: Reaching the Cap USCIS reports that cases will be considered accepted on the date the service center receives a properly filed petition with the correct fee. USCIS will not rely on the date that the petition is postmarked. USCIS anticipates receiving more than enough petitions to reach both caps by April 7, 2014. The agency is prepared to use a random selection process to meet the […]
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Do You Feel Lucky? USCIS Announces H-1B Lottery

For the first time since 2008, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the statutory H-1B cap of 65,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2014 within the first week of the filing period beginning April 1, 2013. USCIS received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree cap. On April 7, 2013, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as a “lottery”) for all FY 2014 cap-subject petitions received through April 5, 2013. The lottery selected a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the cap of 65,000 for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption limit. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees. As announced on March 15, 2013, USCIS has temporarily adjusted its premium processing practice. To facilitate the prioritized data entry of FY 2014 cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases on April 15, 2013. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been previously counted against the cap will not be counted […]
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