H-1B season is underway! U.S. employers can file for new H-1B visas on behalf of prospective or existing employees beginning April 2, 2018. The anticipated window for filing new H-1B petitions under the USCIS H-1B quota for FY2019 is April 2 through 6, 2018. The quota provides for 65,000 regular H-1B visas for individuals with a bachelor's degree or equivalent, and 20,000 additional H-1B visas for individuals who have a master's degree (or higher) from an accredited U.S. university.
At present, no changes have been enacted by Congress or the Trump Administration to the H-1B visa category. However, the issuance of post-filing Requests for Evidence has increased significantly for H-1B petitions, in particular for entry-level workers.
USCIS has confirmed it does not anticipate any procedural changes to FY2019 cap subject H-1B filings. USCIS has not yet announced whether premium processing will be available for H-1B cap subject petitions.
We expect the demand for H-1B visas to continue to be high this year and recommend that employers review upcoming hiring needs to determine as soon as possible if new H-1B petitions will need to be filed under the FY2019 quota for employment start dates of October 1, 2018.
In your review, we recommend considering the following:
Determine whether the company employs any foreign nationals who will need (or may benefit from) a change to H-1B status. Examples include: F-1 and J-1 students, TN NAFTA professionals, L-1B specialized knowledge transferees, E-3 Australian specialty occupation professionals, and individuals with certain types of employment authorization documents (EADs).
Although the Trump Administration has not yet issued proposed regulatory changes, we anticipate the Administration will issue rules to eliminate the STEM OPT EAD as well as H-4 EAD programs.
Determine if there are any prospective employees the company wishes to employ beginning October 1, 2018 or later who require a new H-1B petition. Example: recruiting someone outside the United States who requires an H-1B visa to work for the company.
This client alert is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this update, or for more information about this topic, please contact any of the attorneys in our Business Immigration practice group, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.