2019 H-1B Cap: Five Things You Need to Know!

The 2019 H-1B cap deadline of April 1 is fast approaching. If you are an employee or an employer interested in filing an H-1B petition for the upcoming H-1B lottery, there are several key things to keep in mind:

  1. What does it mean to sponsor an H-1B? If you have never sponsored an employee for an H-1B visa before then you may be wondering where to even begin and what is really means to sponsor an employee. We understand how confusing all of the details can be so we wrote a blog post explaining exactly that. A great next step is to read through web page that details the basic information you’ll need to know before filing an H-1B petition. This blog post is an important read for even the most seasoned employers as the key to the H-1B cap is preparation and attention to detail.

If you are interested in learning more about the H-1B cap lottery and how to prepare, we am holding a free webinar on February 13, 2019 from 12:00-12:45 pm where we will go over preparing for the upcoming lottery in more detail. You can register for it here.

2. What is USCIS looking for in an H-1B petition? The H-1B regulations themselves do not change on a regular basis. The particular issues that USCIS focuses on in reviewing H-1B petitions are constantly changing but there are a few issues that we see regularly. Identifying these issues and proactively addressing them is critical to the success of any given H-1B filing.

This blog post from 2014 addresses common issues we are still seeing including employer-employee relationship, specialty occupation and choosing an appropriate SOC code. Not every position is right for an H-1B visa so before we take on your case, we like to do an extensive evaluation to ensure that this is the right step for you or for your employee’s immigration journey and you are aware of any potential issues.

3. Is the lottery system changing this year? You may have read about some proposed changes to the current H-1B lottery system and are wondering if this will affect how we file petitions this year. As of right now, the lottery will be the same as prior years. The proposed changes for the H-1B lottery program are not currently in effect for the upcoming 2019 lottery. Until we get updated information from the government, we are moving forward with preparing petitions as we normally would. We will keep clients informed if any changes occur.

Want to read more about the proposed changes? Check out our blog post detailing the changes and how they will affect the program.

4. How can I reduce the chances of an RFE? When the rush of filing petitions for the lottery is over, we are sometimes faced with the challenge of a request for evidence or RFE. Nationwide RFE rates have risen to 70% so it is extremely important to file a complete petition. We can never guarantee a petition will not receive an RFE; however our goal is to file a package that provides all of the required and necessary evidence.

What can you do to avoid an RFE? Based on our experience and the experience of colleagues, we have put together two blog posts that detail ways to avoid the most common types of RFEs. Check out Part 1 on Specialty Occupation and Part 2 on Specialty Occupation and Availability of Work.

5. What do I need to think about if I am currently on F-1? There are many things to consider if the H-1B beneficiary is currently in F-1 status, including:

  • Has the F-1 student maintained status? Is she maintaining a full course load if they are studying full-time now? Has she exceeded the unemployment limit, if she is working on OPT? If she is working on STEM OPT, is she being paid an amount comparable to similarly employed US workers?
  • If the F-1 student is working on OPT, when does the OPT end? Will he be able to take advantage of the H-1B cap gap provisions?
  • Will she meet the degree requirements before it’s time to submit the H-1B petition?

Proactive planning and analysis is an essential first step in the preparation of a successful H-1B petition. The Sumner Immigration Law team has years of experience preparing H-1B petitions for multi-national corporations, start-up companies, and companies in-between. We are immigration lawyers located in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. Contact us today to get started or to learn more about our services! You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email to info@sumnerimmigration.com.

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