Despite the National Emergency, USCIS is successful in completing the H-1B visa selection for the FY 2020-21. As we are aware, this is the first time USCIS did follow an electronic registration process, through which employers can register petitions for beneficiaries. During this period (March 1st- March 20th), USCIS received a total of 2,75,000 unique registrations. This is quite high when compared to the 2,01,011 petitions received during the previous Fiscal Year.
46% of the total registrations correspond to beneficiaries with an advanced degree, and nearly 67.7% of the total beneficiaries are from India while 13.2% are from China. As per the USCIS intent, petitioners were informed about the selected registrations no later than March 31st, 2020.
All the employers are informed about the status of their registration with one of the following through their accounts:
We can clearly state the new electronic registration process is a great initiative from USCIS to cut-down filing costs for employers. But, during the initial days of registration period, some of the attorneys and employers encountered certain glitches in registering their petitions. However, USCIS was quick in resolving these issues.
Speaking about the registration process, USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow said the following. "The new H-1B electronic registration system has been an overall success. As a result of this modernized process, the amount of paper and data exchanged between USCIS and petitioners will dramatically decrease this year." He further added that "The positive feedback received by users of the H-1B registration system, the limited amount of technical issues experienced during the registration period, and the ability to immediately respond to questions from registrants was the result of a comprehensive effort developed over the course of more than a year. This new registration system is one of many ways USCIS is improving the H-1B program."
Upon completion of H-B visa selection process, now employers should take upon the next steps of filing the H-1B petition within the 90-day timeline. This involves LCA filing, creation of Public access files, collection of supporting documents, filing Form I-129 and submitting the final petition to the USCIS.
But the most important question is, will the national emergency have an impact on H-1B visa filing employers? Yes. With the rapidly growing impact of COVID-19 all over the country, USCIS has announced certain modifications in its functioning. Here are some of the changes that will make an impact on filing H-1B visa petition:
Effective from March 20, 2020, USCIS will not accept any new requests for premium processing. However, USCIS will process any petition with a previously accepted premium processing request. This temporary suspension includes petitions filed for the following categories:
I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1 and TN-2.
I-140: EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3.
So, no H-1B employer can submit a premium processing request until further announcement.
With President Trump's COVID-19 National Emergency declaration on March 13, USCIS announced flexibility in submitting signatures. USCIS will now accept electronically reproduced original signature for Form I-129 starting March 21st and beyond.
This means that employers who are filing for H-1Bs, must scan, fax, photocopy, or similarly reproduce the document. However, the copy must be of an original document containing an original handwritten signature unless otherwise specified. This inclusion of electronic signature is until the end of National Emergency.
Though these are the updates regarding H-1B petition filing so far, there can be more in the future. Do check our blog for quick updates on H-1B filing process.
As you put the documentation together, you wonder what SOC Titles (Standard Occupational Classification) to choose that are specialty occupations for H-1B Program? What are the right Wage Level to define for the position? Once done, you need to collect lots of documents from your beneficiary, coordinate for your attorney, prepare lot of documents yourself as an employer.
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