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VisaH-1B cap filing season is fast approaching. U.S. employers who sponsor foreign workers for temporary H-1B work visas should start preparing now for the upcoming new H-1B cap electronic registration commencing this year on March 1, 2020.

What Is The H-1B Cap

The H-1B visa is the standard professional US work visa. There is a quota (or “cap”) each year on the number of new H-1B visas available. Specifically, there are 65,000 H-1B visas available annually with an additional 20,000 for US master’s degree holders. Individuals who have not previously held H-1B status are generally subject to this annual cap. Over the last 5+ years, this cap has been oversubscribed. When this occurs, the US Citizenship & Immigration Service (“USCIS”) opens the filing window for a specific period and accepts electronic registrations for new H-1Bs during that period. Presuming the number of applicants registered during that period exceeds the annual quota, then USCIS plans to run a random lottery to select the applicants who will be eligible for making the H-1B petition filing in the following 90 days.

Since Garvey Schubert Barer’s founding in 1966, China has been a major focus of the firm’s practice. In 1979, Stan Barer and other GSB attorneys developed the legal strategy that led to the resumption of shipping between the U.S. and China after a thirty-year hiatus. The first Chinese ship to arrive in the United States sailed into the Port of Seattle, and the first American-flagged ship to sail to China was owned by a GSB client.

This strong alliance, forged and fostered by GSB, has led to Seattle’s importance in trade relations with China. China is Washington State’s major trade partner: in 2017, Washington State exported $18 billion in goods to China. The University of Washington and Tsinghua University have established a joint cross-disciplinary technological institute. President Xi Jinping visited only two locations in the United States: Seattle and Washington, D.C.

global familyDo you have assets in foreign countries? 

Are you or your spouse from another country?

Do you have a relative in another country moving to the U.S., buying U.S. property, or making a gift to someone in the U.S.? 

Are you a green card holder thinking about moving back your home country? 

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to consider the significant challenges that state and federal legal and tax rules could present.  Without a strategy in place, one may face being hit with hefty taxes or complications, which could be minimized with proper estate planning.

While United States businesses were embroiled in trade wars, Japan advanced The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2018 without participation from the U.S. (TPP-11). Now, Japan and the European Union are celebrating the new EU-Japan Trade Agreement, which came into effect on February 1, 2019. Under this agreement, the EU and Japan reported that they have now become the largest open trade zone in the world.

On January 30, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule revising the random selection process (commonly referred to as the annual “H-1B Lottery”) by which the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects new H-1B petitions for adjudication under the annual H-1B quota. The rule is effective April 1, 2019, with no major changes to employers for the upcoming FY20 H-1B filing season; however, the rule does impose a new electronic registration requirement starting next year (FY21).

This op-ed was originally published in The Seattle Times on December 26, 2018.

In March 1979, the American-flagged ship Letitia Lykes sailed into Shanghai harbor, where it was festooned with flowers and greeted by diplomats. Seattle attorney Stan Barer developed the legal strategy to break the 30-year freeze on shipping between our nations which had existed since “Red China.” A month later, where did the first Chinese ship arrive in the United States? The Port of Seattle.

In September 2015, President Xi Jinping paid his first visit to the United States as President of China. Besides Washington, D.C., what other city did he visit? Seattle. What’s the closest international airport in the “lower 48” states from Shanghai or Beijing? SeaTac Airport. What major American deep-water port is closest to China? The ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

What other nation will buy more Boeing-made commercial aircraft in 2018 and potentially for the foreseeable future? China. Which U.S. public university has established a joint cross-disciplinary technological institute with Tsinghua University? The University of Washington.

View the Chinese version

On August 13, 2018, the President signed into law new legislation that will impose heightened oversight of investments by Chinese persons in U.S. businesses. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) provides greater specificity about the types of investments that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency committee of the U.S. government, may review and in turn block due to their potential threats to the national security of the U.S. The new law affects foreign direct investments from any country, but China is one of the countries it is particularly likely to affect.

The Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis ("BEA") is currently administering a BE-120 survey, which is an updated version of the BE-120 required in 2011. This time, however, if you are a U.S. person or entity, you must complete the BE-120 survey by June 29, 2018 (for manual filing) and July 30, 2018 (using the BEA's eFile system) if the following applies to you: During fiscal year 2017, you engaged in either (a) the foreign sale or purchase of services or (b) transactions in intellectual property rights ("IP") with foreign persons involving rights to use, rights to reproduce and/or distribute, or outright sales or purchases of IP. You may only have to complete part of the survey or all of it, depending on the volume of your activity. Further, due to rules regarding rounding off dollar volume, activity under $500 is not reported. More details are available below. Deadline extensions are available by written request.

traveler in airport watching plane take offU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has started returning H-1B petitions to employers whose cases were not selected in the recent H-1B lottery selection process. The USCIS reported that a total of 195,000 H-1B petitions were received during this year’s qualifying filing period, which began on April 2, 2018 and ended on April 6, 2018. Employers whose H-1B petition was not selected for allocation under the 2019 Fiscal Year H-1B quota will receive their paperwork back from the agency, including the uncashed filing fee checks, by regular mail. The quota (or “cap”) applies to individuals who have never held H-1B status before or who previously worked only for an H-1B exempt employer.

With more than four (4) months left in the federal government's 2018 fiscal year, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) this week reported it had already doubled the number of audits that it conducted during the entire 2017 fiscal year. ICE, an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for upholding the laws established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, which require employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of all individuals they hire.

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About Us
Foster Garvey’s International practice group comprises a cross-disciplinary group of attorneys practicing in areas ranging from business transactions, immigration, maritime, government regulatory work, transportation and logistics and estate planning. The group members include bilingual and multicultural attorneys who are well-versed in handling these subject matters in a cross-border context. A number of attorneys have been actively practicing in the international arena since the early 1970s.
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