H-1B Visas are work visas processed and issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Its application filing process for a fiscal year starts April every year. Before April, Employers go through the documentation of its employees for the filing process.
Currently, under the Trump administration, with its new international and immigration policies, there have been several tweaks to this process. The application rule currently remains uncertain as the policies put in place are becoming too cumbersome to face. It is expected that if the process continues, it may affect the interest rate of its applicants.
The New H-1B Visa Policy
- The H-1B visa application has a new policy. The electronic pre-registration came under the new rule was announced in January 2019.
- The announcement pointed out that the new rule will not affect the 2019 application filing but the certainty of whether it will be effective from 2020 is unsure.
- The policy is the introduction of an electronic application, which has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OBM).
- There is no announcement for the cost or expected fees to be paid for the electronic application.
- The application process is expected to start in August of the preceding year and filed by April 2020. Consequently, by October 2020, applicants are expected to know if their application is successful or not.
- So far, the talent pool of the application process is 85,000 out of which 20,000 is reserved for Masters degree holders.
- It is expected that the new rule will save employers more than USD 47 million.
- Several Organizations including Tech companies and law firms sponsoring applicants (employees) are skeptical about this new policy and have written to USCIS to confirm if the electronic process will be available for the next filing season starting April next year.
- It has been estimated that the biggest receivers of the H-1B visa application are employees in the tech sector.
- The letter comes with a September 15, 2019, deadline and it is expected that the USCIS will have a response by then.
Down-side of the New Rule
Immigration experts have noted that there are downsides to this introduction. For instance,
- There will likely be an abuse of the pre-registration process by the employees;
- The abuse can come from unfair delegation system;
- Criteria-driven placements;
- Selection of companies with fewer employees’ sponsorships, etc.
Before the introduction, sponsors were expected to mention if they are working with third-party placement. If the answer is in the affirmative, certain details were required, such as:
- The names and addresses of their clients,
- The number of persons they are sponsoring,
- The details of the work at their third-party worksites, etc.
If the application process is introduced by April 2020, it will save the Sponsors (the employers), the cumbersome application process and extensive documentation including worksite routines before the lottery process, the waiting period of approval or denial after the lottery process.
Just like the application quota, the rule allows a maximum number of employers to register and to participate in the trial phase. The feedback from the participants will be used to improve the subsequent application process.
The H-1B visa has not been stopped, neither has it been scrapped. While the new rule may trigger skepticism, it is ideal to note that the introduction of the pre-registration is expected to improve the system of approval of application and lottery process.
The improvement cannot be determined now, it is expected to be seen after the trial period, the collation and application of the feedback received. Until then, the response to the letter sent to USCIS will determine the way forward.