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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-253-5790.