Changes to H-1B Visa Petition Process

The Department of Homeland Security recently released a new set of rules regarding H-1B visa petitions. Set to become effective after April 1st, 2019, the rules lay out additional requirements for those seeking a visa on the basis of specialized or highly-advanced employment.

At Fong • Ilagan, our Houston employment immigration lawyers have several decades of combined legal experience, and can help you understand all the rules governing your petition. Whether you’re seeking H-1B status or another type of employment-based visa, our dedicated team can help you prepare and file all the necessary documentation with ease, freeing you to focus on the details of your new opportunity.

New Changes to the H-1B Visa Petition Process

Through the current H-1B visa program, American employers can hire foreign workers with college degrees and specialized skillsets, especially when needed for Department of Defense or other government agency projects. Only 65,000 people can be granted H-1B visa status in a given year, and these are decided by lottery. However, there is also an “advanced degree exemption” for those with degrees at a master’s level or higher, and this exemption is capped at 20,000 after the regular cap has been filled.

No matter if you’re an H-1B petitioner subject to the regular cap or if you’ve been given an advanced degree exemption, you will now need to begin the process by electronically registering with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the designated time period. Although this requirement will be suspended through fiscal year 2020 to allow for more user testing, it’s important to double-check this requirement before beginning your H-1B forms.

With the new rules, DHS and USCIS are also fundamentally changing the way they will select H-1B petitioners. By opening the 65,000 cap lottery to all petitioners from the beginning – including those who could qualify for the advanced degree exemption – the U.S. government hopes to increase the total number of highly-educated workers who are selected for processing each year.

Board-Certified Immigration Lawyers in Houston

When you need help deciphering all the forms and regulations for your H-1B visa matter, our skilled lawyers are here to help you out. Combining both business and immigration law, our firm is in a unique position to help those coming to America for work-related purposes, as we understand both the employers’ perspective and the government’s needs. After serving our local community in Houston for more than 20 years, we’ve gained a reputation as a highly effective immigration firm, and we’ve also been recognized as one of the Best Law Firms in America.

Contact Fong • Ilagan today at (713) 772-2300 to schedule your consultation!

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