H-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.
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).
U.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.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) recently confirmed its plans to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by June 2018 to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant workers as a class of noncitizens eligible for employment authorization.
The plans regarding timing were gleaned from documents the government filed on February 28, 2018, in a case pending at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. That case, Save Jobs USA v. DHS, involves a challenge by a group of tech workers to the legality of the original H-4 EAD rule, which became effective on February 25, 2015.
U.S. employers who sponsor foreign workers for temporary H-1B work visas should start preparing now for the upcoming H-1B cap filing season commencing this year on Monday, April 2, 2018. Employers should start identifying those first-time H-1B workers for which petitions will be filed during the first five business days in April. International students holding F-1 visas are the most common beneficiaries for these "quota subject" H-1B petitions.
On October 2, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new version of Form I-765, the application used to apply for an employment authorization document (or “EAD” card). Based on a new information-sharing partnership between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), foreign nationals in certain categories or classifications can now apply for work authorization and a social security number using a single form – the updated Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
On Monday, September 18, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would resume offering its 15-day Premium Processing service for any H-1B visa petition still pending that had been accepted under this Fiscal Year’s (FY) 2018 cap during the first five business days in April 2017. Premium Processing had been suspended for this and almost all other H-1B work visa categories since April 3, 2017.
On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security agency responsible for adjudicating immigration benefits, announced that it will begin expanding the in-person interview requirement for all employer-sponsored permanent residency applications. Eﬀective October 1, 2017, the agency will begin to “phase-in” personal interviews at the nearest USCIS Field Office for all adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
What is the International Entrepreneur Parole?
On January 17, 2017, the United States Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) formally released the final rule to allow International Entrepreneurs to legally remain and work in the United States in a Parole status. The rule will become effective on July 16, 2017.
The long anticipated and new option for International Entrepreneurs was first introduced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) in August 2016. The new rule, included in 8 CFR 212.19, is aimed at providing an alternative method for those entrepreneurs who can meet the requirements to enter and remain in the U.S. for start-up employment. The rule provides automatic work authorization for those international entrepreneurs who are paroled into the U.S. for a start-up business. The advantage of making the rule is that it doesn't need to be first approved by the U.S. Congress, but by USCIS. International entrepreneurs may be allowed to enter the United States more easily and stay for a longer period of time for up to 30 months initially.
It may be surprising, but moving to the U.S. with your foreign-citizen spouse is not as simple as you might imagine. If you are a U.S. citizen working abroad and considering moving back to the U.S. with your foreign-citizen spouse and/or children, it is never too early to begin planning for return to the U.S.
If you are living outside the U.S. and have a foreign-born spouse and/or children, it may have been quick and easy for them to travel to the U.S. on holiday. But moving back to the U.S. is an entirely different story, requiring government filings and significant lead time of as much as a year or even more.
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.