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Employers: Consider Important Deadlines for New H-1B Cap-Subject Foreign Worker Petitions

First-time new H-1B petitions or change of status petitions by employers can be filed for the upcoming U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) fiscal year in April 2020 as long as the individual for whom the petition is being filed is in lawful status at the time of filing, and has not engaged in any unauthorized employment since his or her last lawful admission. 

However, there are new rules or amendments that have been implemented this year.  The new H-1B visa rule (the “H-1B Rule”) amends the Department of Homeland Security’s regulations governing petitions filed on behalf of H-1B beneficiaries. Specifically included are beneficiaries who can be counted toward the 65,000 visa cap established under the Immigration and Nationality Act (the “H-1B Regular Cap”) or beneficiaries with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions of higher education who are eligible for an exemption from the regular cap (the “Advanced Degree Exemption”).  See 83 FR 62406.

The H-1B Rule requires employers seeking to file H-1B petitions subject to the H-1B Regular Cap or those eligible for the Advanced Degree Exemption, to first electronically register with USCIS.  Thus, USCIS changed both the H-1B visa filing process and the H-1B registrations for fiscal year 2021 (October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021) by first selecting registrations submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those eligible for the Advanced Degree Exemption.  USCIS will then select from the remaining registrations a sufficient number projected as needed to reach the Advanced Degree Exemption.  Changing the order in which USCIS counts these separate allocations will likely increase the number of beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. college or university to be selected for further processing under the H-1B allocations.  This is specifically beneficial for U.S. based companies who need to hire foreign students. Those who have studied in the U.S. and graduated with at least a master’s degree have a greater chance of obtaining the H-1B visa under the Advanced Degree Exemption.

The New H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions include the following important deadlines:

  • February 24, 2020: U.S. employers or their attorneys may begin creating H-1B registrant accounts
  • March 1, 2020 to March 20, 2020: H-1B cap-subject employers’ registration period
  • March 31, 2020: USCIS to notify selected registrants who hit the H-1B lottery
  • April 1, 2020: The earliest date that fiscal year 2021 H-1B cap petitions may be filed

Planning early is always better for the H-1B visa process as there have been significant changes for fiscal year 2021.  To avoid last minute issues or discuss in detail, please contact Attorney Duriya Dhinojwala at dd@bmdllc.com or call 330-253-5790. 

HHS Announces an Additional $20 Billion In Provider Relief Grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced an additional $20 billion in new funding for providers on October 1, 2020. Eligible providers include those that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments as well as previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic. The new Phase 3 General Distribution is designed to balance an equitable payment of 2% of annual revenue from patient care for all applicants plus an add-on payment to account for revenue losses and expenses attributable to COVID-19.

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.