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H-1B Visa Procedures to Remain the Same for Fiscal Year 2019: First Date to File is April 2, 2018

January 30, 2018

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) Service Center Operations Directorate has confirmed that they are not anticipating any procedural changes for the fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) H-1B cap season. USCIS intends to follow the same procedures that were used for the 2018 H-1B cap season, which presumably would not include a pre-registration system. In addition, USCIS does not anticipate that premium processing will be suspended for non-cap H-1B petitions, although there may be a short suspension of premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions.

The H-1B visa program, by way of review, allows U.S. companies to employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations requiring a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a specific academic area, and the total number of new H-1B visas available is limited for each fiscal year. Current annual limits are 65,000 visas with an additional 20,000 available to H-1B applicants who possess advanced degrees from U.S. academic institutions. 

USCIS will begin accepting new H-1B petitions subject to the annual quota for FY 2019 on April 2, 2018. (Because April 1, 2018 falls on a Sunday, USCIS will accept cap-subject petitions for the year starting on the following business day, Monday, April 2, 2018.)  

The annual fiscal year cap for H-1B visas is usually reached within the first week of filing, so employers will need to mail all cap-subject H-1B petitions early within the filing window for delivery to USCIS on April 2, 2018. Employers should begin identifying individuals for whom H-1B sponsorship will be necessary now, so as to allow sufficient time for H-1B petition preparation.

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