News & Resources
Posted January 3, 2020 H-1B
With the annual April H-1B cap right around the corner now is a great time to start thinking about individuals you’d like to sponsor and opening cases. This is also the first year that USCIS will require a pre-registration for the lottery, requiring companies to register and pay a $10 fee for each H-1B in order to be submitted to the lottery. Full H-1B petitions will only be submitted for individuals selected through this pre-registration process.
The H-1B cap officially opens on March 1, 2020 and be open for registration until March 20, 2020. Starting the process early can provide peace of mind as the lottery approaches knowing that the cases have been filed with the registration system.
Employers may wish to consider sponsoring the following:
- Employees in F-1 OPT or CPT status
- Employees who are currently working abroad
- Employees in other visa statuses who may be sponsored for a green card
- Employees working on an H-4 EAD
- Employees currently on TN status
Due to the nature of the H-1B cap, even if an employee’s current status is valid until 2020 or later, you may want to consider filing an H-1B cap case now so that they have more chances at the cap. This past April, USCIS received 201,011 petitions for 85,000 spots.
For companies that place employees at client sites, starting the H-1B process early can provide more time to ensure that sufficient evidence regarding the client relationship can be obtained. Providing client documents early allows your business immigration attorney ample time to review them and for additional documents to be obtained in the event of incomplete or insufficient evidence. Not having the proper documentation can result in an inability to file the case or a Request for Evidence later.
We encourage you to speak with you Meltzer Hellrung LLC attorney about any individuals you’d like to sponsor or if you have questions about the types of positions that qualify for an H-1B.
Posted December 17, 2019 H-1B
As any employer that has sponsored an H-1B employee knows, the cost of playing the H-1B lottery is high and the odds of winning are low (roughly 50%). A new electronic registration process that’s being rolled out for the upcoming fiscal year is a game changer and is the most advantageous ever for start-ups to sponsor H-1B candidates. Indeed, the new electronic registration process will cost less, provide transparency in selection, and provide faster notification of selection. Similar to last year, by reversing the order of the lottery (first master’s cap exemption then regular H1B cap), it will also favor those with a U.S. Master’s degree or higher.
Under this new process, employers seeking H-1B workers will complete a simple online registration that requires only basic information about the employer and each requested worker. The initial registration period will run from March 1 through March 20, 2020. After registration has closed, USCIS will run a random selection process on the electronic registrations and then notify the employer of those selected. Only those selected will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. This means employers can test their luck, and if a sponsored H-1B candidate is selected, decide at that time whether to move forward with submitting an H-1B petition and incur the associated fees. This process will prevent an interruption in cash flow, as the filing fees for unselected petitions will no longer sit in account for extended lengths of time.
We are here to help! Your Meltzer Hellrung team (Partner, Sr. Associate, and Paralegal) is proactive in pushing case work to filing, using our technology platform to provide transparency during the case preparation process. We are also process evangelists, designing high-volume processes like H-1Bs to be efficient and less burdensome on your time, including 10-business day turnaround on H-1B transfers and automation of the creation, storage, and purging of your LCA Public Access Files.
We have two pricing models this year with the H-1B electronic lottery system:
- Cost Saver - You can pay 50% of the H-1B attorney's fee up front and we'll open the case, assess and address all issues for filing, file the H-1B LCA, and register the candidate for the electronic H-1B lottery system. When we find out who is selected in the lottery on 3/31/2020 and your candidate is among those selected, we would charge the other 50% of the attorney's fee and the government filing fees ($2460 or $3900 w/premium processing), prepare and print the petition for filing, and ship it to the USCIS for processing to an approval or denial. The main benefit of this approach is that it's cheaper for the company. The downside is that after we find out who is selected in the lottery, we'll have several hundred H-1B submissions that need to go out, which will take us roughly 60 days to complete. In other words, we won't be able to file immediately after we know someone was selected, which many employees will want, because we'll have a high volume of cases to get through. We guarantee we'll file before the 90-day window for filing after the lottery closes, but we can't guarantee submission in the first few weeks after the lottery.
- Fast Filing - You can pay 100% of the attorney's fee up front and we will fully prepare the entire H-1B lottery petition to a paper submission, enter the person in the electronic system, and then place the paper petition "on the shelf." If your candidate is selected in the lottery, we would bill you for the required filing fees and then ship the case to the USCIS as soon as filing fee payment is made. The benefits of this approach are 1) we'll be able to file after lottery selection faster because we'll have prepared the entire petition ahead of time and 2) this hedges the valid concerns we have with USCIS lottery systems failing in some way as this is the very first year of the electronic lottery and we expect over 200,000 submissions into a brand new system that has never handled this type of volume before. Should something happen to the electronic system, we believe USCIS will revert to the old paper petition filing system and conduct the lottery manually as they've done for the past 15 years.
Posted December 9, 2019 H-1B
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Friday that it has completed a successful pilot testing phase and is implementing the registration process in the next H-1B lottery. Employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for the fiscal year 2021 cap, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee.
This will be the first year that this registration process will be used. Under this process, employers will complete a basic electronic registration for each H-1B worker subject to the cap and pay a fee of $10. USCIS will accept these registrations March 1, 2020 through March 20, 2020. The lottery selection will then occur for these electronic registrations. Only those selected in this lottery will need to submit the full H-1B cap subject petitions with associated filing fees. The lottery results will be published by March 31, 2020, and those selected will have 90 days to submit the full petitions to USCIS.
USCIS will be posting detailed instructions on how to complete the registration process on their website (www.uscis.gov) as well as timelines closer to the initial registration period. USCIS will extend the registration period or open an additional registration period if sufficient registrations to reach the number of available allocations are not received.
Please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung attorney if you have any questions.
Posted September 25, 2019 Articles, H-1B
As October 1st approaches and F-1 student employees, whose H-1B cap petitions have been approved, change to H-1B status, it is important that employers review payroll procedures and update tax withholding for these employees. Under the Internal Revenue Code, employees in F-1, J-1, M-1, Q-1 or Q-2 non-immigrant visa status may not subject to FICA. The FICA tax exemption becomes inapplicable when an employee changes to H-1B non-immigrant status. Employers must start withholding FICA taxes on the effective date of the H-1B status change. If an H-1B petition is not approved as of October 1st, the tax change will go into effect when the H-1B petition is approved.
Please contact your designated Meltzer Hellrung Attorney if you have any questions.
Posted September 6, 2019 H-1B
We are proud to have filed a lawsuit challenging the USCIS's denial of an H-1B petition, on behalf of NuCurrent. Our lawsuit has been featured in Crain's Chicago Business Magazine. NuCurrent sponsored a hardware engineer for an H-1B visa in the fiscal year 2019 H-1B cap. That petition was denied by USCIS. The agency claimed the position does not qualify as a specialty occupation, i.e. one that requires a bachelor's degree in a specific field of study.
NuCurrent is challenging that denial in federal court, asking a federal judge to determine that the USCIS's decision was arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. We believe the facts in this case demonstrate that the USCIS made a decision that is contrary to law. We hope that a federal judge will agree, or that USCIS will overturn its decision under pressure from the litigation.
We are excited to help our client pursue their rights to the fullest extent available. We are able and available to help all of our clients zealously pursue their options in any venue, including federal court.