Although the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced regulation changes to the H-1B cap lottery process, it is encouraged that employers continue preparing as they normally would. This new regulation will bring changes to the H-1B lottery process, increasing the chances of advanced degree holders to be selected. It also calls the USCIS to introduce a new mandatory registration system for filing.[1]

Steps employers should take to prepare for the April 1, 2019 filing:[2]

  1. Identify H-1B cap candidates. Employers should identify H-1B applicants who will be subject to the cap. The H-1B cap applies to new status H-1B foreign workers. This may be newly graduating foreign students in the U.S. or abroad as well as workers overseas. Induvial who are applying to extend their H-1B status or change employers, or those who work for cap exempt entities will not be subject to the H-1B cap.
  2. Finalize job offers. With a start date of October 1, 2019, job offers should be finalized with potential H-1B employees. Priority should be given to any potential worker whose current immigration status is ending soon (such as those on students on F-1/OPT, intracompany transferees on L-1B visas, etc.)
  3. Complete job descriptions. Employers should prepare job descriptions early on. This should include the prospective H-1B employees job duties and the positions minimum qualifications. Job descriptions are a requirement for the Labor Condition Application for Nonimmigrant Workers (LCA),[3] one of the first steps in the H-1B visa process. This provides guidance on the prevailing wage for the occupation. It usually takes seven days for the Labor Department to certify an LCA.
  4. Avoid last minute document gathering. It is important to allow for adequate time to collect the appropriate documentation. Some documents such as foreign academic transcripts or certificates may take more time to obtain since not only are official versions and translations required, but official evaluations providing evidence of (educational or work related) equivalency may be required.
  5. Explore Alternatives. Before diving head first into the H-1B visa process, explore all potential options and alternatives visa categories. This is also important if workers to not obtain an H-1B visa and need to pursue other visa options.

There is a high demand for H-1B visas and it is expected that the number of applicants for H-1B visas will easily exceed the cap limitations. Employers and individuals can increase their odds by filing within the first week of April.