On April 1, 2019, USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) will start accepting H1B work status petitions for the next fiscal year. H1B work status is reserved for positions that require at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific field, such as engineers, teachers, or IT professionals.

USCIS typically accepts these applications for five business days (April 1 to 5). If USCIS receives more H1B petitions than the allotted quota for the year, it will conduct a “random selection” process, aka “H1B lottery,” for all the petitions received from April 1 to 5. The winners will get receipt notices, and those who are not selected will have their application packets returned. There are 20,000 of these visas available to individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher (aka “master’s quota”) and 65,000 visas available for the rest, including those who are not selected in the master’s quota. In 2018, there were close to 200,000 H1B petitions received in the first 5 days of April. The chance for being selected in the H1B lottery process was approximately 1 in 3. Extension, amendment, or transfer H1B petitions do not count toward the H1B quota because the applicant has already been counted. Certain employers, such as universities, are also exempt from the H1B quotas.

Employers who are considering hiring employees who need H1B visas should begin the process as soon as possible. It takes a minimum of 2 weeks to prepare an H1B petition because of various regulatory requirements. First-time H1B employers/sponsors and many cases take longer as well, because of other complicated facts.

Employers should have the following when contacting their immigration counsel to start the H1B process:

  • Job title for the H1B employee’s job title, detailed job description, job location, and offered salary
  • Number of total employees
  • Net and gross revenues (if available)
  • Company brochures, marketing materials, payroll records, etc., to prove that the company is “real”
  • Financial statement, tax return, or equivalent to demonstrate that the company is financially viable
  • The name and email address of the person who will be signing the immigration documents
  • For first-time H1B employer/sponsor, a copy of the IRS letter containing their FEIN number, or equivalent

The H1B employee should have the following items ready (photocopies are sufficient):

  • Passport biographic page, current US visa (if in the US), I-94 admission record (available on line at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov)
  • Education documents (diploma, transcripts – unofficial okay)
  • Non-US degrees will need to be evaluated and translated. It will take about a week.
  • Most up-to-date resume (US format)
  • Copy of all immigration status documents issued by US Immigration, such as I-20, I-94, work permit, travel document, DS-2019, etc.
  • If there is spouse and/or children under 21 years old who need dependent H4 status, their passport biographic pages, US visas, I-94 admission records, and relationship documents (marriage or birth certificate)
  • More documents will be required if the applicant has prior issues with US immigration or the police

USCIS has proposed a registry process which will drastically change how employer will submit H1B petitions. However, it is unlikely that the new process will be implemented this year. Until we hear from USCIS otherwise, we recommend that we follow the existing process.

We are happy to consult with and assist employers and employees to prepare their H1B petition in time for the April 1 submission. Please do not hesitate to contact Jared Leung at jleung@davismiles.com or 480-344-4577 to schedule a consultation. Thank you very much.