On April 2, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting applications for one of the most popular U.S. work visas, H-1B, for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The H-1B program is limited to 65,000 new H-1B visas per year, with an additional allotment of 20,000 for individuals who have earned a U.S. advanced degree (master’s or higher).
The immigration community is expecting that, as in prior years, the H-1B cap 2018 season will be very short — five business days. Our office is already preparing a number of H-1B applications for our clients and we urge employers to prepare for a very short H-1B season by identifying and initiating H-1B sponsorship cases now.
High H-1B Cap Demand Expected: How and When to Prepare?
The expected heavy demand in this H-1B filing season means that all H-1B petitions should be submitted on or very shortly after April 2nd. It should be noted that it takes at least 10 to 14 days to prepare and file an H-1B petition (due to the LCA filing requirement, which takes up to 7 business days). First-time H-1B employers should allow additional 3 to 5 days. Therefore, it is critical to plan ahead to maximize your chances of success and start any new cases now.
What to Expect Under the Trump Administration?
The fundamentals of the H-1B cap process and rules remain unchanged compared with past years. Despite discussions on making substantive changes to how H-1B work visas are allocated, there are no substantive changes during this year’s H-1B cap season.
There are, however, areas where USCIS has been exercising additional scrutiny compared to prior years – for example, with entry-level positions which are consistent with payment of “Wage Level I” salaries and with positions where a bachelor’s degree in a specific field is not always required.
In addition, the recently issued memorandum titled “USCIS Strengthens Protections to Combat H-1B Abuses” suggests that USCIS will be applying increased scrutiny to those H-1B petitions that are placing workers at third-party client sites.
Well-prepared and documented H-1B cap applications should address these and other areas of possible scrutiny during this year’s H-1B cap season.
If you wish to start a new H-1B work visa petition under this year’s quota, or if our office can be of any help, please contact us as soon as possible. Our attorneys and professionals stand ready to review your case, as part of our free immigration initial consultation, and will help you prepare a strong H-1B application. Shulman Rogers offers competitive flat fee rates for our immigration services.
Join Our Upcoming Webinar: Immigration Compliance for Human Resources
In light of aggressive government enforcement actions under the Trump administration, employers and human resources professionals need to have a firm understanding of their roles and responsibilities regarding employment of foreign workers on work visas and what to do in the event of a surprise government workplace site-visit. HR professionals should consider attending our FREE April 18 webinar, “Immigration Compliance for Human Resources.”
Contact info: Meredith S. Campbell Chair, Employment and Labor Group, Shulman Rogers firstname.lastname@example.org | T 301.255.0550 | F 301.230.2891