H-1B Visas

USCIS resumes Premium Processing Service for cap-subject H-1B petitions, takes next step in H-1B registration rules

USCIS resumed Premium Processing Service for all cap-subject H-1B petitions on June 10, 2019. The USCIS news alert is posted here and also mentions a temporary suspension of the use of pre-paid mailers for sending approval notices. Instead, final notices will be sent via regular U.S. mail.

Separately, the Department of Homeland Security published its proposed regulatory agenda which included a proposal to charge a fee for H-1B registrations filed under the electronic registration rule expected to to take effect for the upcoming “cap” season in Spring 2020. Further implementation details have not yet been released.

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H-1B cap update – USCIS reports 201,011 petitions received

Today USCIS announced that it received 201,011 H-1B petitions in the filing period that began on April 1. On April 10 USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as a “lottery”) to select a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the cap. USCIS says that it conducted the selection process for all beneficiaries first, as described in its January 30, 2019 regulation, and then selected a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption from the remaining eligible petitions. Any petitions not randomly selected will be rejected and returned with the filing fees.

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H-1B "regular" cap reached for FY 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 5 that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory H-1B visa “regular cap” for fiscal year (FY) 2020. USCIS will next determine whether it has received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as “the master’s cap.”

USCIS is expected to use a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as the “lottery”) for all FY 2020 cap-subject petitions received through April 5, 2019. This year, the agency will conduct the selection process for “regular cap” first, and the “master’s cap” second, as discussed in our prior blog posts. The exact day of the random selection process has not yet been announced.

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USCIS resumes Premium Processing Service for all H-1B petitions, clarifies PPS for cap-subject petitions

Updated March 19, 2019:

On March 11, 2019, USCIS announced that it would resume Premium Processing Service for all H-1B petitions, effective on March 12, 2019. The USCIS news alert is posted here. Two days later, USCIS clarified via AILA liaison that H cap petitions were not covered by the March 11 announcement.

USCIS resumes Premium Processing Service for H-1B petitions filed on or before December 21, 2018

On February 15, 2019, USCIS announced that it would resume premium processing service (“PPS”) for H-1B cases filed on or before December 21, 2018. USCIS previously announced that it would also resume PPS for FY 2019 “cap” cases – i.e., those petitions filed in last year’s H-1B lottery that are not yet adjudicated.

USCIS to release new version of Form I-539 and require biometrics from all applicants

On February 11, 2019, USCIS announced that, on March 11, 2019, it will release a new version of the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant status. The form is commonly used for dependents’ status extensions, among other applications. The form, when released, will have an immediate effective date of March 11, 2019, which means that any applications filed on or after that date must use the new form.

USCIS announces final changes to cap-subject H-1B visa petition processing

On January 30, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced a final rule effective April 1, 2019 that changes the way cap-subject H-1B petitions will be processed in two ways: first, petitioners seeking to file petitions will have to register electronically with USCIS during a designated registration period; and second, the order in which cap-subject petitions are selected in years when demand exceeds supply (i.e., when a lottery is required) has been reversed.  We discussed these changes in depth when they were proposed, in our December 3, 2018 blog post.

DHS publishes proposed changes to cap-subject H-1B visa petition processing

On December 3, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would make changes to the way cap-subject H-1B petitions are processed. There are two proposed changes: first, petitioners seeking to file petitions will have to register electronically with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period; and second, the order in which cap-subject petitions are selected in years when demand exceeds supply has been reversed. These changes are made pursuant to President Trump’s Buy American and Hire American Executive Order, issued in 2017.

Update on work authorization for certain H-4 dependents

As mentioned in our prior post, the Trump administration was due to propose new regulations by the end of February 2018, eliminating the ability of certain H-4 dependents to work.  Although it has not yet issued proposed regulations, there is now an updated timeline for that to occur.  On September 21, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) submitted a status report in the ongoing litigation in Save Jobs USA vs. U.S. Department of Homeland Security over the regulation allowing H-4 employment.  The status report for the case, which is being held in abeyance pending the issuance of a new rule, indicated that DHS’s proposed rule will be sent to the Office of Management & Budget (“OMB”) for notice and comment within three months.