H-1B Visa Rules 2018

H-1B Visa allows the employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis under specified conditions. In order to qualify for the H-1B non-immigrant visa, the worker must meet the eligibility criteria specified by the US Government. Employers can take advantage of the E-Verify facility provided by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to determine the eligibility of their workers to work in the US. The application process requires the employers to first submit the Labour Condition Application (LCA) to the Department of Labour (DOL) before initiating the H-1B Visa application with the USCIS. LCA specifies the details of the job, worker's profile, and the compliance of H-1B Visa rules.

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H-1B Visa Petition Rules

The employers who are authorised to hire a foreign worker must adhere to the H-1B Visa rules before filing the petition. The petition can be filed for a new job that fulfils the H-1B Visa requirements or to extend the visa period to another three years. Regulated by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), USCIS facilitates the application for various categories of US Visa. The US Department of State (DOS) is responsible for the issuance of H-1B Visa while Customs and Border Protection (CBP) permit the entry. The petitions filing is allowed under the following conditions:

  • The complex nature of the job requires a skilled worker who has completed either a bachelor's or higher degree.
  • The specified position must require a worker with either a bachelor's or higher degree to fulfil the position.
  • Employers will need to file an approved ETA-9035 Form (LCA) and I-129 Form (petition to USCIS) for the application.
  • The worker has either a bachelor's or higher degree from one of the accredited college or university from the US or outside.
  • The worker must have valid documents/certificates as the proof of education, work experience, etc.
  • The worker shouldn't have any restrictions or ban from working in the US.
  • H-1B petitions are offered for a maximum of three years which can be extended for another three years.
  • The H-1B status is provided for a maximum of six years post which the visa holder must depart from the US or change to a different visa status.
  • H-1B petitions have an annual cap of 85,000 applications which is distributed among various categories of occupations.
  • The salary for the jobs should not be lesser than the salary of workers who are equally qualified and experienced in a similar type of job.
  • Based on the employer's profile, the petition may or may not require an additional fee.
  • Out of the 85,000 non-immigrant H-1B visas granted every year, 20,000 petitions are approved for individuals who are enrolled in one of the accredited US school, college or universality.

H-1B Visa News Update

Trump's vision of 'Buy American, Hire American' dream has led to the proposal of a bill which can change the Immigration and Nationality Act. The bill suggests amendments to the definition of 'exempt H-1B non-immigrant' from the master/higher degree to the salary threshold requirement of $100,000. Earlier, foreign workers with a master/higher degree and annual earnings of $60,000 or above could apply for the H-1B Visa, however, the new rule will disregard the degree requirement while increasing the minimum salary to almost the double amount.

If the bill is approved, thousands of H-1B Visa holders and their dependents will be forced to depart from the US. The new H-1B rule will also be applicable for dependents (H4 Visa holders) who are currently working in the US. The H4 Visa holders will lose their jobs and be forced to depart the country with their spouse/family. The H-1B Visa news pertaining to the policy changes has become a matter of concerns for many Indian IT firms and professional in the US. The new rule can also end up in a mass deportation of workers who are awaiting their Green Card (Permanent Residency) status. Trump's administration has also introduced few initiatives to curb and stop the abuse of H-1B Visas by employers under many grounds.

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News About H-1B Visa Rules 2018

  • Director of USCIS Calls for Strict Laws to Stop H-1B Visa Holders from Getting American Jobs

    L Francis Cissna, the director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while speaking at an event called ‘Immigration Newsmaker’ advocated for a law that would prevent H-1B visa holders from getting American jobs. Cissna went on to add that the immigration reform should be directed towards ensuring that the most qualified people get the visas. As per data received from USCIS, a total of 3.65 lakh applicants were granted H-1B visa for the 2017 fiscal year. Among the 3.65 lakh applicants, as many as 75.6% were born in India. However, with the Trump Administration tightening the rules for granting H-1B visas, Indian IT companies and their employees have been hugely impacted. Due to the tightening of the rules, Indian IT companies are having to incur increased operating costs as well increase their onsite hiring. It needs to be mentioned that the US administration in the latest policy has provided officials with the exclusive power of rejecting a visa application. The officials can reject the application if required initial evidence is not submitted or if the evidence provided fails to establish eligibility for the visa that the applicant applies for. The new rules which would ensure that applicants don’t get a second chance to submit more documents as evidence to support their eligibility will become applicable from September 11.

    28 August 2018

  • The Government is trying to save the H-1B Visa Rule, says Sushma Swaraj

    The government is making efforts to convince the Trump administration to not move ahead with its plan to scrap the rule that allows spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the U.S under the H-4 visa.

    At a press conference on Monday, Ms Swaraj said that the government is making efforts on multiple-fronts to save H-1B visa and H-4 visa. She remarked that they have been in touch with the White House officials, the state administration, and Congressmen and senators.

    Ms Swaraj further added that India’s efforts have not been in vain, as 130 members of the U.S Parliament have written to Trump, asking him not to revoke the H-4 visa as it would severely impact the American economy. She also emphasised that even though the ultimate decision lies with the Trump administration, the government will not spare any effort.

    7 June 2018

  • US government report states Indians accounted for over 74% of H-1B visas in 2016

    As per the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services report, IT professionals from India accounted for 74.2% and 75.6% of the total number of H-1B visas issued by the US in 2016 and 2017 respectively. China comes second in the list by accounting for 9.3 and 9.4 percent respectively. The report however, suggests that there has been a drop in the issuance of new H-1B visas with data revealing that the number of beneficiaries from India approved for initial employment came down by 4.1% in the 2017 fiscal year. The report further mentions that while the number of new beneficiaries approved for employment decreased, the number of beneficiaries approved for continuing employment in the country saw an increase of 12.5%.

    The report which became public this week contains a lot of data regarding H-1B visa. The report states that as many as 70,737 Indians received initial H-1B visa in 2016 which dropped to 67,815 in 2017. While the number of Indians who had the visa for continuing employment increased to 2,08,608 in 2017 from 1,85,489 visas in 2016. The percentage of H-1B petitions filed and approved saw an increase of 1.24 and 5.9 percent respectively for the year of 2017. The report further highlights that the petitions approved for H-1B visa in 2017 for workers who possessed a bachelor’s degree was 45.2%, 44.5% for masters’ degree holders, 6.8% for a doctorate degree and 3.3% for those having a professional degree. The number of H-1B visa petitions approved for workers in the field of computer-related occupations also saw an increase of 6.6% in 2017, the report said.

    16 May 2018

  • Indian IT companies experience a drop of 43 percent in H-1B visa approvals

    As per the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), some seven top Indian IT companies saw a drop of 43 percent in their H-1B visa approvals between 2015 and 2017. NFAP in a report has stated that the 8,648 new H-1B visas issued in 2017 constituted only 0.006 percent of the 160 million US labour force. The report argued that the 85,000 annual limit is too low for an economy the size of the United States. It needs to be mentioned that as per data obtained from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) registered a drop of 51 percent when it comes to receiving H-1B visas in 2017 as compared to in 2015. During the same period, Infosys recorded a drop of 57 percent while Wipro received only 1,210 H-1B visa in 2017. Among all the seven Indian-based companies, only Tech Mahindra’s H-1B approvals went up since 2015 with them receiving 2,233 H-1B visas in 2017.

    4 May 2018

  • H-1B Visa Applications Drops For The Second Consecutive Year

    Applications for the popular American work visa H-1B has dropped for the second consecutive year. The US agency received a little over 1.90 lakh applications for the 2018-19 season compared to nearly two lakh applications received the previous season, a decline of nearly 4%. Despite the increase in hiring of locals in the US in the past few months by large Indian tech companies, the interest in the H-1B visa has not declined. The US agency has received over 95,000 advanced-degree H-1B cap submissions and over 94,000 standard H-1B cap submissions for the 2018-19 season.

    18 April 2018

  • H-1B Petitions Are Set To Drop For The Second Year In A Row

    The applicants from India who are filing for H-1B work visas might drop down for the 2nd year amidst increased scrutiny and varying business models by the U.S. Government. As per the recent reports, the visa applications are anticipated to decline further this fiscal year due to varying business models applied by the Indian IT businesses.

    The current IT sectors now use cloud computing than other technologies to lessen their dependencies on H-1B visa. Undoubtedly, Indians are one of the major beneficiaries of this visa. However, with intensified scrutiny by the US government to target the Indian firms applying for this visas, they tend to welcome this scrutiny with grace.

    The first biggest decline happened the previous year when the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) got only about 1.99 lakh applications, against 2.36 lakh applications during the financial year 2017.

    5 April 2018

  • As Per The New H-1B Visa Rules, Indians Will Have A Hard Time Entering The U.S

    As per the new policies of the H-1B visa, it is going to be even harder for the tech companies to hire skilled Indian professionals to the U.S. According to the revised rules, an H-1B visa will be granted only for the period an applicant has been specified to work at the third-party worksite.

    The authorities will check in detail about the firm’s assignments, applicant’s stay duration, and his/her specialty occupation. After strict inspection, a visa holder might not even get to be there for more than 3 years.

    In addition, an H-1B visa holder will not be able to move or switch between firms/projects more than once while staying in America. Apart from this, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has temporarily suspended the premium processing of H-1B visa and getting a green card is almost a dream.

    27 March 2018

  • H1B season begins from April

    The season to begin filling applications for the H1B visa begins on April 2 for the next year, which is 2019, according to USCIS officials.

    Generally, all Indian firms have had a major share in the number of such visas issued. More and more immigration lawyers are gearing up to work on this process. All applicants are hoping for the best and will be sending in their applications under a number of stipulated ‘caps’. In fact, all applications will be accepted from April 2, which happens to be a Monday. There is no holiday in the US on the day and hence the process will begin on the first day itself.

    All applications will be taken for the 5 working days in the week. If a company wants to file for this visa, it do so even 6 months before the commencement of the job concerned in the US, according to the USCIS.

    It is important to note here that applications with any kind of ‘ without any kind of specific start date’ are most likely to be rejected. It is also wise to avoid words such as ‘ASAP’ or ‘subject to approval’.

    9 March 2018

  • H-1B visa rules sees further changes

    The officers of US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) are set to ask for more documents and evidences from hiring firms before providing H-1B visas to its employees. This can be stated after going through the press release which was released recently by USCIS. In the press release, it was mentioned that when H-1B beneficiaries are placed at third-party worksites, they must demonstrate having specific and non-specific qualifying assignments. This jeopardises the plans of those looking to transit from a H-1B visa to a Green Card as the visa duration can be cut short from the usual 3 years on the basis of the work.

    It needs to be mentioned that Indian citizens make up for the bulk of H-1B visa holders. However, following the new restrictions imposed by the Trump administration, skilled workers from the country are looking at other alternatives like Canada, China or Europe. This can be gauged from the fact that visa applications filed by Indian IT firms have dropped by almost 50 percent in the last two years.

    5 March 2018

  • The new H-1B visa rules will impact Indian IT industry hugely

    As per the new rules on the H-1B Visa, a company has to give additional proofs to demonstrate that its employee is truly required to work at a third-party site to complete a specific assignment in a specialty occupation.

    The new policies are becoming stricter, making it highly hard for both Indian IT firms and Indian citizens who are trying to get an H-1B visa. This visa program offers a temporary US visa, which allows companies to employ highly skilled professionals who are working in fields with a lack of capable American workers.

    1 March 2018

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