When Is the Best Time to Apply for an H-1B Employee Visa?

H-1B visaThe most highly anticipated visa of the year begins its application season in Q1 2019. The coveted H-1B visa allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in jobs that are “specialty occupation” positions, which involve the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge.  H-1B visa holders often possess STEM degrees, such as jobs in fields such as science, engineering, logistics, and information technology.  To apply for an H-1B visa, the applicant must have a bona fide job offer from a U.S. employer, a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in their specific specialty or its equivalent, and meet the other requirements of the visa.

The H-1B visa is valid for three years, with an optional three-year extension, and provides the employee with the opportunity to apply for a Green Card if sponsored by the employer.  Accordingly, because the H-1B visa can last for 6 years (and even longer under some circumstances), the H-1B visa is one of the most popular ways for foreign professionals obtain a work visa, and ultimately, a Green Card in the United States. 

US FlagAs H-1B applications require a third-party academic credential evaluation of foreign degrees and the processing of a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor before an applicant is eligible to file an H-1B application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), H-1B applications can take 2-4 months to prepare.  Therefore, a prudent applicant will begin his or her application preparation in December or January because it can take several months to get documentation prepared and signed by the employer, obtain important documents from third parties, and have the application prepared by an attorney. Continue reading

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Will the H-1B Lottery Change in 2019?

H-1B visaIn an attempt to change the lottery system for H-1B applications, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a rule that would require all H-1B petitioners to pre-register online for the H-1B lottery prior to submitting their H-1B filings. According to the proposed rule, only those H-1B petitions that have been selected in the lottery could then be submitted for the adjudication by USCIS. The rule is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OBM), which is the first step toward implementing such changes.

Other proposed changes would benefit applicants with Master’s Degrees by adding them to the initial round of 65,000 Bachelor’s Degree applicant visa spots lottery.  Then, if there are any Master’s Degree applications left over after the initial lottery round, the remaining Master’s Degree applications will be added to the lottery for the remaining 20,000 Master’s Degree cap. Continue reading

USCIS Temporarily Suspends Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions

enter-usa-h1b-visaAs of April 2, 2018, USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap.  This cap was reached in just four days, by April 6, 2018.
USCIS has temporarily suspended premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. This suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. During this time, USCIS will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap.
USCIS will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates.

During this temporary suspension, USCIS will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, both forms will be rejected.

Once USCIS resumes premium processing, petitioners may file a Form I-907 for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions that remain pending.

Requesting Expedited Processing

While premium processing is suspended, a petitioner may submit a request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition if it meets the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and USCIS encourages petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request. USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and will grant requests at the discretion of its office leadership.

The Reason for Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions

This temporary suspension will help USCIS reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, USCIS will:

  • Process long-pending petitions, which it has currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
  • Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark.

Look for USCIS’ updates on the H-1B FY 2019 Cap Season webpage.

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USCIS Reaches FY 2019 H-1B Cap in Just Four Days

enter-usa-h1b-visaWASHINGTON, D.C. – On April 6, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 visa H-1B cap for fiscal year 2019. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the “Master’s cap.”

USCIS began accepting applications on Monday, April 2, and reached its cap within just four days.  It will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

As of May 15, USCIS completed data entry for all fiscal year 2019 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in its computer-generated random selection process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, USCIS cannot provide a definite time frame for returning unselected petitions. USCIS asks petitioners not to inquire about the status of their cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned.
Based on last year’s applications, receipt notices were sent out around May for cases that were accepted in the lottery, and applications that did not pass the lottery were returned (along with the original application and filing fees), by July.
Additionally, USCIS may transfer some Form I-129 H-1B cap subject petitions between the Vermont Service Center and the California Service Center to balance the distribution of cap cases. If your case is transferred, you will receive notification in the mail. After receiving the notification, please send all future correspondence to the center processing your petition.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally-mandated FY 2019 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

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Jennifer Grady, Esq. to Provide Guest Lecture at UCLA’s International Trade and Commerce Program

uclaOn November 30, 2017, Jennifer Grady, Esq. will provide a guest lecture to students at the University of California, Los Angeles, International Trade and Commerce Program as part of their course entitled, “Doing Business in the U.S.”  Ms. Grady will discuss corporate formation options for California entrepreneurs, and immigration visa options, including the Specialty Occupation H-1B visa; J-1 Trainee visa;  TN visa for professionals from Mexico and Canada; the E-2 Investor Visa for new and existing US businesses; and the and L-1A option for executives, managers, and entrepreneurs opening an office of an existing foreign business in the United States.

View More: http://elyanaphotography.pass.us/jennifer

Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

“Doing Business in the U.S.” is a course offered through UCLA Extension.  It provides entrepreneurs, business managers, and international trade professionals with key business and cultural insights to do business within the mainstream U.S. market. Topics include an overview of the U.S. economy, regional and national demographics and cultural dynamics, business customs, framework of the U.S. legal system, marketing strategies, and negotiating tactics. Continue reading

Visa Options for Fashion Models (O-1B, H-1B3, and P-3 Visas)

NYFW 2Do you dream of walking down the runway at New York Fashion Week?  Are you interested in becoming a brand ambassador for a prestigious luxury brand?  Whether you’ve mastered the catwalk or discovered your niche in commercial modelling, several visa options are available depending on your level of achievement and reason for coming to the U.S.

Fashion models typically enter the U.S. in one of two ways— the O-1B visa (for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement) or the H-1B visa (for Specialty Occupations, Department of Defense Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models).  The majority of fashion models will apply for the H-1B3 Fashion Model visa, while a third option for models is the P-3 visa (for Artists and Entertainers who are Participating in a Culturally Unique Program).

H-1B3 Visa for Fashion Models

Melbourne-Model-Casting-Call-3-EditTo qualify for the H-1B3 Fashion Model visa, you must be a fashion model of “prominence” and the model must possess distinguished merit or ability. Continue reading

O-1B Visa for Artists or Actors with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement in the Arts or Motion Pictures

filmmakerCalling all talented artists and actors!  Are you an actor trying to make a breakthrough in Hollywood?  Or perhaps you are a renowned violinist, famous choreographer, or an award-winning pastry chef?  If you excel in your field of arts or the motion picture industry, you may be eligible for the O-1B visa.  The O-1B visa is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry who will perform in the U.S. in an event or project associated with this ability.

The O-1 visa can be an alternative to the highly competitive H-1B visa (for skilled workers in specialty fields), which in recent years has reached its annual cap of 65,000 visas within days after opening the program.  Unlike the H-1B visa, the O-1 visa has no annual limit on the number of visas available, it can be filed year-round, and the length of stay can be extended indefinitely based on the time required to complete a project or event.

Individuals who are essential to the O-1 applicant’s successful performance in the U.S. may apply for an O-2 visa in conjunction with the O-1 visa application. Continue reading

Visa Options for Entrepreneurs and Recent Grads: H-1B Visa through Global Entrepreneur in Residence and J-1 Visa for International Student Entrepreneurs through University Exchange Programs

In the absence of an official “startup visa”, and in lieu of the International Entrepreneur Parole Rule, which has now been postponed until March 2018, organizations and programs exist that help entrepreneurs from around the world establish their businesses in the U.S.  These programs are generally geared towards assisting international students who have developed a technology or innovation with launching a start-up in the U.S. that creates high-paying jobs.

H-1B Visa through the Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program

GlobalEIR-logo-black-and-blue-1

Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence (Global EIR) is an organization that helps international entrepreneurs gain access to visas to come to the U.S. to build their businesses and create local jobs by partnering with universities.  A university will sponsor a foreign-born entrepreneur for a H-1B visa (which is not subject to the H-1B visa lottery and quota) to work on campus to provide mentoring to students, review business proposals, or teach classes.  This is a tremendous benefit, as an H-1B applicant had a one in four chance of making it through the lottery in 2017 before the application could be reviewed by USCIS on its merits. While working for the university, the entrepreneur continues to build his or her business in the U.S.  After 6-18 months, this option could lead to an O-1 visa and Green Card.

The Global EIR currently has a presence in 13 colleges and universities across four states, including the following schools: University of Alaska, Anchorage; Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage; Babson College, Boston; University of Massachusetts, Boston; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Missouri, St. Louis; and San Jose State University.

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The Grady Firm Speaks USC Gould Law School LLM Students

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Jennifer Grady and Andrea Graef

On April 11, 2017, business and immigration attorneys, Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. and Andrea Graef, JD, LLM, spoke to a group of foreign lawyers who are earning a Masters in Law (LLM degree) from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in downtown Los Angeles, California.

As a licensed attorney from Mexico and a alumna of the program, Ms. Graef spoke to the students about her experience transitioning from student to attorney, and how proper planning is essential to obtaining a job and work visa upon graduation.  one of the more popular strategies for recent LLM graduates is to use the one year available of Optional Practical Training (OPT), and apply for an H-1B visa during that time to take advantage of the cap-gap extension.

Ms. Grady explained the various visa options in detail, including the Specialty Occupation H-1B visa, J-1 Trainee visa, and TN visa for professionals from Mexico and Canada, and the E-2 Investor Visa for new and existing US businesses and L-1A option for executives, managers, and entrepreneurs opening an office of an existing foreign business in the United States. Continue reading

USCIS Reaches FY 2018 H-1B Cap In Only 5 Days

Release Date: April 7, 2017

Lottery BallsWASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 visa H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the “Master’s cap.”

USCIS began accepting applications on Monday, April 3.  It will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  However, USCIS suspended premium processing on April 3 for up to six months for all H-1B petitions, including cap-exempt petitions. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally-mandated FY 2018 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

Continue reading

5 Secrets to Preparing a Successful H-1B Application

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

H-1B visaOne of the most notorious ways for foreign professionals to obtain a visa and even a Green Card in the US is through an H-1B visa, which requires sponsorship by the professional’s employer, and can be granted for three years with one additional three year renewal. The H-1B allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, and requires a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

However, with great benefits comes great competition. The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit, or cap, of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Due to the United States’ stability in an increasingly unstable world, in 2015, 233,000 foreigners applied for the H-1B, a significant increase over 2014 (172,500 applications), and nearly double the applicants from two years ago Lottery Balls(124,000). Because the average applicant with a bachelor’s degree has only a 27% chance of making the quota, it is essential to not only meet the requirements and have an outstanding application, but to first make it into the H-1B lottery. Continue reading

Webinar 4/29: How to Bring Your Business to the Largest Consumer Economy in the World

Presenting to Startup Chile

The original presentation at Startup Chile in Santiago, Chile

On April 29, 2015 at 11 am PST, The Grady Firm attorneys will be presenting a webinar on how foreign entrepreneurs can do business in the United States, from a corporate and immigration law perspective.

Today, A.T. Kearney released its 15th annual Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index, which ranks countries based on how changes in their political, economic, and regulatory systems are likely to affect foreign direct investment inflows in the coming yearsThe Index ranks the United States as #1 for the third year in a row.  Learn how to be a part of that investment trend during the following presentation:

HOW TO BRING YOUR BUSINESS TO THE LARGEST CONSUMER ECONOMY IN THE WORLD Continue reading

H-1B Cap Reached by April 7, 2015 for Fiscal Year 2016

American Visa (XL)by Jennifer Grady, Esq.

On April 7, 2105, USCIS announced that it reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year (FY) 2016.  USCIS received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption, and more than the 65,000 “regular cap” limit for applicants without a Master’s Degree.  U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as engineering, science, and computer programming. 

In the meantime, USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally mandated FY 2016 H-1B cap. 

Continue reading

Start Preparing Your H-1B Application Now to Be the First to File on April 1, 2015

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

ImageOn April 1, 2015, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting petitions for H-1B specialty occupation visas.  Approved applications will allow a foreign national to commence employment in the new fiscal new year, which starts on October 1, 2015.  USCIS limits the number of petitions it will accept to 65,000, and operates on a first come, first serve basis. Over the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of petitions submitted to USCIS.  Last year, on April 7, 2014, USCIS announced that it reached the statutory cap of 65,000 within the first week of the acceptance period. This year, the cap will likely be reached within the first few days of the April 1 opening.

For those wishing to file an H-1B petition, it is strongly advised that the application materials be received by USCIS exactly on April 1, 2014 to ensure that an application falls within the 65,000 cap. Note that petitions received before April 1, or after April 5, will most likely be rejected by USCIS. Continue reading