NEW YORK: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B visa petitions this year from April 3. The window for applications is likely to be kept open through April 7, for the 85,000 available H-1B visas. Including 20,000 for students who have a Master’s degree or higher from US educational institutions. Thereafter, a lottery will determine the recipients of the visa.
Employers file for an H-1B petition no more than six months before the employment start date requested for the beneficiary. Last year, only 1 out of 3 applications got the visa in the lottery.
An important aspect of this year’s H-1B visa process, is that premium processing has been suspended. If a petition is filed in premium processing, USCIS will reject the Form I-907. Also, as a reminder, if the employer submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, USCIS will reject the entire petition, not just the premium processing.
USCIS provides the following steps for the H-1B visa filing:
- Complete all sections of the Form I-129 petition, including the H Classification Supplement and the H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement.
- Make sure each form has an original signature, preferably in black ink.
- Include signed checks or money orders with the correct fee amount.
- Submit all required documentation and evidence with the petition at the time of filing to ensure timely processing.
- Ensure there is only one H-1B position for the beneficiary of each petition.
- Be sure to file the petition to the correct USCIS service center. If you file your petition at the wrong location, USCIS may reject it. Rejected petitions will not retain a filing date and will not be counted toward the H-1B cap.
- Be sure to include a signed, certified Department of Labor LCA (ETA 9035). Keep Department of Labor LCA processing times in mind when preparing the H-1B petition and plan accordingly.
- Include evidence of education credentials (with English translations when applicable) at the time you file your petition. If you have met all of the requirements for a degree, but the degree has not yet been awarded, you may submit the following alternate evidence:
- A copy of the beneficiary’s final transcript; or
- A letter from the registrar confirming that the beneficiary has met all of the degree requirements. If the educational institution does not have a registrar, then the letter must be signed by the person in charge of educational records where the degree will be awarded.
It’s important to know that employers may not file multiple or duplicative H-1B petitions for the same employee. To ensure fair and orderly distribution of available H-1B visas, USCIS will deny or revoke multiple or duplicative petitions filed by an employer for the same H-1B worker and will not refund the filing fees.