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H-1B Visa Season FY 2018: Tying up loose ends and What to Expect After Filing

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As the days lead up to April 3, 2017, (the first day that USCIS will begin to accept H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2018) our office will be very busy putting the final touches on all cap-subject H-1B petitions. In this post, we will discuss what you should be doing now to tie up any loose ends and increase your chances of selection this H-1B season. In addition, this post will outline what you can expect to receive from USCIS after filing.

First, create a preliminary checklist to ensure that you have met all the requirements to properly file your H-1B cap-subject petition:

Note: Premium processing is suspended for all petitions filed for H-1B fiscal year 2018 for both the H-1B regular cap and master’s cap. Do not file a Form I-907 request for premium processing because the form will be rejected. If you include the I-907 fee in combination with any other filing fees associated with the H-1B visa, USCIS will reject the entire H-1B petition.

Checklist:

  1. Did you include the correct version of all forms with revision date on/after Oct. 23, 2014? See uscis.gov/forms to download current form versions.
  2. Did you properly sign and complete Form I-129 including the correct H Classification Supplement?
  3. Did you properly sign and complete the I-129 and H Supplement?
  4. Did you properly sign and complete the I-129 Data Collection Supplement and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement?
  5. Did you include a properly signed and certified Form ETA-9035 Labor Condition Attestation (LCA) from the Department of Labor for the position for which the beneficiary is applying for?
  6. Did you ensure all forms have an original signature in black or blue ink?
  7. Did you include separate signed checks or money orders for each filing fee with the correct fee amounts?

REMEMBER that USCIS recently changed its fee schedule for certain petitions effective December 23, 2016. See https://www.uscis.gov/fees for a complete list of current fees.

  1. Did you include all required documentation and evidence in support of your petition? See below for a running list.
  2. Did you ensure that you have included only one H-1B position for the beneficiary of each H-1B petition you have prepared?
  3. Do you know the service center where you must file the petition? If not, ensure that you submit your petition to the correct USCIS service center. The service center where your petition must be filed depends on the work location of the H-1B beneficiary as you have specified in the petition. To determine the correct service center see https://www.uscis.gov/i-129-addresses. Failure to submit your petition to the correct service center will result in a rejection of your H-1B petition.

Other documents in support of your petition

Note: The list provided below is not all inclusive and specific details pertaining to your H-1B petition should be discussed with a licensed attorney in detail. Additional documents may be necessary depending on your specific case

  1. Did you review and sign your Petitioner Letter of Support on Company Letterhead?
  2. Have you provided informational materials from the OFLC regarding the prevailing wage for the beneficiary’s position, and information regarding the specialty occupation from the Occupational Handbook?
  3. Have you provided copies of the beneficiary’s documentation?
  4. Beneficiary’s Passport ID page (copy) and copies of U.S. Visa ID pages (if applicable);
  5. Beneficiary’s I-20’s if the beneficiary has an F-1 visa;
  6. Beneficiary’s DS-2019’s if beneficiary is on a J-1 visa;
  7. I-94 Arrival/Departure record (if Beneficiary is in the United States on a visa)
  8. Beneficiary’s Visa Stamp;
  9. Beneficiary’s degree, transcripts, with English translations, and educational evaluation if degree is foreign;
  10. Beneficiary’s resume
  11. Evidence of work experience such as: resume, verification of current and past employment, expert opinion letters and letters from Beneficiary’s previous employers demonstrating that the Beneficiary has experience directly related to the specialty occupation;
  12. Any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment
  13. Dependents: If the immediate family members of the beneficiary will be applying for an H visa as dependents, along with the beneficiary’s H-1B petition, have you provided the necessary signed forms, documentation, and filing fees for each dependent?
  14. Materials on Employer’s Business: Have you provided copies of materials on the employer’s business: IRS letter containing FEIN, Secretary of State Registration, Income Tax Returns and Evidence of Financial Position, Brochures, Website printouts, Information on the products or services offered
  15. If the employer is a startup have you provided: Copies of Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Organization/Incorporation Minutes, Statement of Information, Bank Statements, Business Plans (if applicable)
  16. Did you include a duplicate copy of your H-1B petition with the original bundle of documents?
  17. Did you keep a duplicate scan and copy of the entire H-1B petition that will be mailed to USCIS?
  18. Make sure any documents not in English are accompanied by certified English translations

Beware of submitting one check as combined payment for all filing fees associated with the H-1B visa. If you have included the incorrect fees, USCIS will reject the entire H-1B petition.

What Can I Expect After Filing my Petition?

  1. Cap Announcement: Once the cap has been reached (usually by April 7th), USCIS will make an announcement to indicate that they will soon proceed with the selection process by a randomized lottery system
  2. Randomized Lottery: Once USCIS has reached the cap, all petitions filed under the Masters cap will go through a lottery for selection of the 20,000 spots allocated to the Masters quota. Any petitions filed under the Masters cap that were not selected, will get a second shot at being selected by going into the regular quota for the general cap. A second lottery will then be conducted to select the remaining 65,000 spots available under the general cap quota. Masters applicants will roughly have a 65 to 70% chance of selection, while applicants for the general cap will roughly have a 35 to 40% chance of selection. Last year, the lottery took place on April 9th.
  3. Notification of Selection: H-1B petitions filed with regular processing will not receive an official NOA (notice of action or receipt notice) until late April through the month of May. Because premium processing is suspended for cap-subject petitions, notification of selection will take some time after the lottery has been conducted. We recommend that employers monitor their bank account closely within this time frame.
  4. Unselected Petitions: If you do not receive a NOA by late April through the month of May, chances are your petition was not selected in the lottery. Petitioners who were not selected will receive a returned package and return of the filing fees from mid to late June.
  5. Selected Petitions: If you receive a NOA that you have been selected, you must wait to see if USCIS issues a request for evidence for your petition. If you receive a request for evidence you must promptly respond by the deadline specified. If you do not receive a request for evidence, you must wait until your petition has been approved.
  6. Approval: Once you receive your approval notice, you may begin employment on October 1st of fiscal year 2018. If you reside abroad, you must make an appointment at the U.S. consulate or embassy near your place of residence to obtain your H-1B visa and stamp in your passport.

More questions? Please read our helpful frequently asked questions for more information. As always you may contact our office for a free first time consultation. Good luck!