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American economy increases demand for H-1B visa filings

February 26, 2020

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Employers filing for H-1B visa’s earlier this year, likely to exceed the “cap” with e-filing changes taking place for the first time

February 26, 2020 – Washington, DC – The 2020 H-1B Nonimmigrant Professional visa filing period is quickly approaching and this year USCIS is ringing in the changes with an overhaul of the initial H-1B process including a new electronic registration system, and a significant boost to H-1B candidates with U.S. Master’s Degrees. Tully Rinckey Attorneys have seen an increase in employer demand around H-1B visas, but are encouraging clients to start the process early.

The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows U.S. companies to employ degreed professional workers in specialty occupations in fields including, but not limited to: computer technology, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, and medicine. There is an annual limit for new H-1B visas 65,000 with an additional 20,000 reserved for advanced degree professionals who have earned a U.S. Master’s degree or higher

It is anticipated that the demand for H-1B visas will likely once again exceed the annual limit, or “cap” on H-1Bs. As such, USCIS will be conducting a lottery for the available new H-1B visas. Employers should be proactive in identifying potential positions that could qualify for H-1B visas and identifying existing employees who may need authorization for continued employment now. This year’s H-1B cap is significantly earlier than prior years, however the application period is longer and it advisable to apply as soon as possible.

“The American economy is booming and we have seen a massive increase in demand from companies interested in taking advantage of the new lottery system,” said Attorney Michael Freestone who oversees Tully Rinckey’s Corporate Immigration practice and routinely advises large multinational companies on global mobility strategies. “The changes show positive signs for graduates of USA masters programs, that America values skilled labor and higher education.”

The USCIS has instituted a number of significant changes to the H-1B process to streamline the lottery process and provide significant benefits to recipients of U.S. Master’s degrees. The new system divides the lottery process into two, with the first lottery for U.S. Master’s degree candidates and second for all applicants including the remaining Master’s degree candidates. Still, there will be a large number of workers who will be selected who have not received these levels of degrees, so companies should not be discouraged from pursuing H-1B Visas for their employees. In addition, the new USCIS electronic portal will provide employers will real time oversight over the H-1B process and offers a simplified initial registration process.

Attorney Michael Freestone anticipates a record high demand for H-1B visas and encourages employers to work with their immigration attorneys to consider other options, such as green cards or other visas, such as L-1 or E-2 in advance of filing for H-1B visas.

New Electronic Registration Process

E-filing in some part has finally made its way to the USCIS and under the new electronic cap process, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration process including detailed information about their company and each potential H-1B worker. USCIS has stated that the initial registration period will run from March 1 through March 20, 2020.  The H-1B lottery will be then be run before March 31, 2020.  Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. As this is a significant change to the H-1B process, it is important to start your company’s H-1B process early, to ensure that your company is ready for this renewed process.

For more information about the changes to the immigration process for employers or to speak with Corporate Immigration Attorney Michael Freestone, please contact Graig Cortelyou at (518) 640-1243 or via email at gcortelyou@tullylegal.com.

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