ABIL Attorneys Release H-1B Tips for Employers

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The H-1B filing season starts April 2, 2018. Attorneys from the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers offer tips for employers aiming for success in the H-1B lottery.

Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers

This year, more than ever, employers will need the help of a good immigration lawyer to navigate the turbulent waters of the H-1B lottery and potential requests for additional evidence.

On April 2, employers can start filing H-1B temporary visa petitions for foreign professionals for work starting October 1, 2018. The law limits new H-1B visa numbers to 85,000 a year. Because many more employers than that are likely to file petitions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will receive applications for one week and then conduct a lottery to determine which applications will actually be processed. Applications that receive a receipt will then be adjudicated for approval or denial.

Getting selected in the H-1B lottery does not necessarily mean a petition will be approved. USCIS issued 45% more requests for additional evidence on H-1B petitions in 2017 than the previous year. There was also a higher percentage of denials, longer processing times, and tougher standards on filing requirements. ABIL attorneys foresee even more scrutiny of H-1B petitions this year, as well as longer processing times.

ABIL attorneys recommend the following potential ways for employers to maximize their H-1B chances:

  •     Apply based on a master’s degree from a U.S. nonprofit university as long as all degree requirements are completed before April 1
  •     Ensure close match between course of study and job duties
  •     Apply concurrently for optional practical training (OPT) or STEM OPT and H-1B
  •     Apply for “consular notification,” not change of status, to preserve OPT if OPT lasts beyond October 1
  •     Apply for “change of status” if OPT expires before October 1 to preserve work eligibility under “cap gap” policy, but avoid travel
  •     Choose O*NET code and wage level carefully
  •     If more than one field of study could qualify a person for the position, explain task by task how the position requires the education
  •     Be careful of Level 1 wages. Instead, obtain an acceptable prevailing wage from a legitimate source other than the Labor Department, offer to pay a higher wage from the outset, or explain why this particular job is both entry level and qualifies as a "specialty occupation"
  •     Consider other visa options if your employees is not selected in the H-1B lottery
  •     Check USCIS website for changes to form, fee, filing location

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Lauren Anderson
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