Big Changes in H-1B visa processing coming in 2019

On Nov 30, 2018 USCIS announced a notice of proposed rulemaking that is aimed to make H1B Visa program more efficient. New proposed rules will make the following changes to the selection process of the cap-subject H-1B visas:

1. USCIS would reverse the order by which USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption. This will potentially increase up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

Currently, the advanced degree exemption is selected prior to the H-1B cap. The proposed rule would reverse the selection order and count all registrations or petitions towards the number projected as needed to reach the H-1B cap first. Once a sufficient number of registrations or petitions have been selected for the H-1B cap, USCIS would then select registrations or petitions towards the advanced degree exemption.

2. In a major change, USCIS will require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to electronically register with USCIS in advance to filing. Once petitioner registers each employee and obtains a registration number, a petition can be filed.

USCIS expects that shifting to electronic pre-registration would reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process for USCIS.

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