USCIS Proposes Changes to H-1B Visa Program

On November 19th, 2018 the U.S. Department of Labor began requiring that employers of H-1B applicants use a new Labor Condition Application form (LCA), ETA 9035. For 2019, USCIS proposes further changes to H-1B Visa Program. The time of implementation of these changes is not yet set.

From the perspective of both international students and foreigners in general, the uncertainty of changing U.S. immigration policies and denials can be overwhelming. You can find a summary of the proposed changes to the H-1B below:

1. Changes to H-1B registration:

  • Electronic registration with the USCIS is now a requirement during a defined period (usually two weeks before 1 April); this also applies for those holding US master’s degrees or higher. The H-1B lottery will then be conducted, by the USCIS, from the pool of electronic registrations that are filed on time; only those selected will be able to file a petition and receive adjudication;
  • Once selected, applicants will be notified of their eligibility to file a petition for the H-1B within a 60-day designated filing period
  • Starting 1 April 2019 onwards, the USCIS will be authorized to delay the H-1B registration process, should it be necessary, to facilitate the completion of all system testing

2. H-1B regular visa order to reverse and US master’s cap lotteries:

  • The USCIS may reverse the order to which it selects, at random, H-1B petitions for adjudication. Currently, beneficiaries of advanced US degrees are selected before beneficiaries of the regular cap. In reversing the order and selecting the regular cap beneficiaries first, those with US advanced degrees essentially get a second opportunity to be selected;
  • The initiative is in-line, as highlighted by the USCIS, with the Trump administration’s intention to award the H1-B visa to the highest-paid and most skilled individuals.
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