With less than a fortnight for April 1st, H-1B is the most concerned topic of discussion for the employers filing H-1B. The new regulations and restrictions in the H-1B process usually add up more confusion among the beneficiaries and the petitioners. However, this latest announcement about H-1B premium processing throws some light upon the process.
The major highlights of the USCIS announcement are the start of H-1B cap season, the launch of new H-1B data hub, premium processing dates and also a reminder of the changes in the H-1B process. Every update or change made in the H-1B process is in support of Trump's policy "Buy American, Hire American".
This date marks the beginning of H-1B Cap season and USCIS will accept H-1B petitions starting from April 1st,2019. Any petition filed before this date will be rejected. If there is any discrepancy in the information provided, it may lead to delay in processing or an RFE. So, the employers have to follow all the rules and regulations while filing the petition. Here is the Optional Checklist for filing Form I-129 H-1B filings.
This Cap season USCIS has started a two-phase approach for H-1B premium processing. This update would ease up the burden on USCIS making it easier for them to manage the premium processing rather than suspending it like the previous years. However, these latest updates on the H-1B premium processing dates have also created a commotion. The First phase of H-1B premium processing will include all the cap-subject petitions requesting the status change. And the second phase includes all the remaining cap-subject petitions.
Any petitioner, requesting for a status change may file for premium processing by concurrently filing the Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing) along with Form I-129 (Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker). Petitioners must select response (b) for Item 4 in Part 2 of Form I-129 to be eligible to concurrently file Form I-907.
USCIS will not start processing for these petitions immediately. However, it will notify the date of premium processing in the future, which will be before May 20th, 2019. If any petitioner requesting for a status change hasn't filed Form I-907 along with the Form I-129, he/ she must wait until the premium processing date is confirmed. USCIS will reject any petition which is not concurrently filed with the H-1B petition, but filed before the confirmed premium processing date.
USCIS will not start the second phase of H-1B premium processing for all other Cap-petitions until June, 2019. All the petitioners who are not requesting a change of status don't need to submit Form I-907 with H-1B petition. They can upgrade their petition to premium processing once USCIS notifies the confirmed date for all the other cap-subject petitions.
As a part of USCIS's effort to promote transparency in H-1B process, it is making the new H-1B Employer Data Hub available in uscis.gov from April 1st, 2019. This hub includes information about the employers who are filing H-1B petitions. This data will be available for the public, which will be helpful in calculating the approval rate and denial rate.
DHS has proposed a new rule for the selection of the H-1B petitions. This new regulation reverses the order in which H-1B petitions are selected. The new H-1B process mandated a lottery on the regular cap prior to the cap exempt. 65,000 petitions are selected from the first lottery. This lottery includes both the regular cap petitions along with the cap exempt petitions.
The petitions selected in the process are sent for further processing. All the unselected petitions are returned to the employers or attorneys along with the fees. Now, the cap exempt lottery is conducted for the unselected exempt petitions.
This minor change in the process increases the chances of selection for the Cap exempt petitions, which will be an advantage for all the beneficiaries with a Master's Degree from US university .Even with all these updates in the process, experts forecast H-1B to be high in demand for the coming fiscal year.
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