On January 9, 2020, the USCIS finalized the implementation of a significant change to the processing of H-1B visa petitions this year.  Consequently, there will not be a short filing window at the beginning of April 2020, so there is no deadline in April 2020.  Rather, the USCIS is implementing a registration requirement that will take place between March 1-20, 2020. 

The procedure for H-1B petitions this year begins with the submission of a registration form for each individual that a company seeks to sponsor.  The USCIS is assessing a fee of $10 for each individual’s registration.  As stated, the registration form must be submitted to the USCIS between March 1-20, 2020. 

The USCIS will then conduct a random lottery of the registration forms to determine which registrants will be allowed to submit an H-1B visa petition.  A company may submit an H-1B visa petition for only those individuals whose registration form is chosen in the random lottery. 

The USCIS states that it intends to notify registrants with selected registrations no later than March 31, 2020.  The sponsoring company will then have no less than ninety (90) days to submit a completed H-1B visa petition for the individual.

For those individuals whose registration forms are not selected, the USCIS will keep their registrations on reserve just in case visas become available.  In all likelihood, however, these individuals will probably not have an opportunity to have an H-1B visa petition processed on their behalf until the next fiscal year in 2021.      

To qualify for an H-1B visa, the petitioning company must be able to prove the following requirements:  (1) the position that the immigrant will fill is a “specialty occupation”, and (2) the immigrant meets the requirements for the specialty occupation.  In other words, the company must prove that the position offered is a professional position that mandates an individual with at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a specific field, and that the individual sponsored has that particular type of bachelor’s degree or work experience equivalence.

The process to apply for an H-1B visa involves several steps before a petition can be submitted to the USCIS.  An initial step in the process involves verification of the sponsor’s federal employer identification number (FEIN) with the Department of Labor (DOL), which can take a week or more.

Another pre-filing requirement is notification of the Labor Condition Application (LCA) that will be filed with the DOL.  The notification must be provided to the union’s bargaining representative or, if none, by posting the notice of filing for 10 consecutive days or emailing it to certain required employees of the sponsoring company.

Once the FEIN has been verified, and the notice of filing the LCA has been conducted, the LCA must then be electronically filed with the DOL.  The processing of the LCA typically takes about one week.  The H-1B petition may be filed with the USCIS only after the DOL has issued the certified LCA.    

The H-1B visa allows the individual to work in the US for an initial period of up to 3 years.  The H-1B visa can thereafter be extended for another 3 years, and then at either 1 year or 3 year intervals provided certain requirements are met.  While working in the US as an H-1B visa holder, the individual can then undertake the steps necessary to obtain lawful permanent residency.  Moreover, the spouse and unmarried children under age 21 are eligible to obtain an H-4 dependent visa in order to live in the US with the H-1B visa holder.  Also, certain H-4 spouses are eligible to obtain a work permit.

This opportunity happens during a very short period just once per year.  So, those interested in obtaining an H-1B visa must ensure that they have competent legal counsel that can ensure the proper and timely fulfillment of all deadlines and requirements.

 

For further information, please schedule an appointment with an attorney at Aquino & Loew, Immigration Law Specialists. Please also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.  Aquino & Loew also handles family law and criminal matters.  Providing Personalized Service Nationwide & Abroad Since 1996.

USCIS Announces New H-1B Visa Procedures
January 13, 2020

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