H-1B Visa process starts today: From tough USCIS norms to filing procedure; top highlights

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Updated: April 2, 2018 3:24:27 PM

H-1B Visa process 2018: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is the federal agency responsible to process all H-1B visas, has started accepting H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2019 from Monday.

H-1B Visa process 2018: H-1B visa is considered as the most sought-after work visa among highly skilled Indian professionals.

H-1B Visa process 2018: The process of filing petitions for H-1B has begun today. H-1B visa is considered as the most sought-after work visa among highly skilled Indian professionals. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is the federal agency responsible to process all H-1B visas, has started accepting H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2019 from Monday. The online filing can be done by visiting the official website of USCIS – uscis.gov.

This development comes amidst an unprecedented scrutiny by the Trump administration on H-1B visas. The USCIS this time will accept zero tolerance for even minor errors. It has strongly indicated that the immigration attorneys this time expect a much high rate of rejection. Expecting a huge rush of application and greater scrutiny of all petitions, which would require much more man hours, the USCIS has also temporarily suspended premium processing.

In a statement yesterday, USCIS said that protecting American workers by combating fraud in our employment-based immigration programs is a priority for USCIS. Therefore, it has enhanced and increased site visits, interviews, and investigations of petitioners who use the H-1B visa programme, which will help in protecting American workers.

Here is all you need to know about the H-1B visa:

What is H-1B Visa

• The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
• The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
• Ahead of the H-1B visa filing process, USCIS said this work visa should help US companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country.
• The H-1-B visa has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year as mandated by the Congress.
• The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap.

Changes proposed in H-1B visas in recent years

• As an H-1B non-immigrant, the applicant may be admitted for a period of up to three years.
• The time period may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond a total of six years. However, there are some exceptions to it.
• Over the past year, the administration has made the process of extension more difficult.
• This has compelled Indian IT firms to inform employees that they may have to return earlier than anticipated.
• The new rules imply that one may not even now get the initial full three years, reported Times of India.
• As per the 2017 report, the new proposal had asked for the minimum salary of those on H-1B visas to be doubled to $130,000 a year, therefore making it difficult for tech giants to hire foreign workers.​

H-1B Visa process 2018: H-1B Visa petition filing tips

What to do while filing the petition

• Complete all sections of the form accurately.
• The petitioner should include a copy of the beneficiary’s valid passport.
• If the applicant is seeking an extension of stay or change of status, he/she should include evidence to establish that the beneficiary will maintain a valid nonimmigrant status through the employment start date being requested.

What Not to do while filing the petition

• USCIS has warned that there will be zero tolerance for even minor errors.
• The practice of filing duplicate petitions by the companies had become normal in past years. This was done so that applicants could have a greater chance of getting through the lottery. However, USCIS has warned against duplicate applications filing as it would be subject to rejection.
• USCIS has also said that it will reject H-1B petitions requesting an earlier employment start date or a start date of “As Soon As Possible” or “ASAP.”

H1-B visa for Indian companies

• The applications by Indian companies are likely to face a greater scrutiny of all these petitions.
• Indian companies would have to pay much more fee per application than those from other countries.
• On an average, the applicants are required to pay USD 6,000 to the federal government per H-1B application.

H-1B Visa process 2018: Interview Process

• The successful applicant needs to appear before the American diplomatic missions — embassies and consulates – for a formal visa interview and stamping on their passport.
• For this, they would have to be ready with details of the social media profile, emails and phone numbers in the last five years.

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