With the numerous administrative and enforcement changes in the H1B visa program, both applicants and sponsors have many questions about the current status and future of the non-immigrant work visa. Here are the most frequently asked questions and our best responses. (all of these responses could change if any new laws are passed, so we will keep you updated)
Will there be a lottery system used for fiscal year 2019 (April 2018)?
As of now, there have been no legislative changes that would change the lottery process or annual cap of 85,000 H1B visas. However, the USCIS could decide to shift to a ‘merit based’ evaluation system for H1B visas, and forego the lottery as an administrative act without legislative approval.
When should I start to look for a position if I want to be considered for an H1B visa next year?
Realistically, you can start right away looking for sponsors and positions, to give yourself a head start and the best chance at a high paying job. If H1B visa positions are more competitive, then it pays to start early. The petition will still not be accepted until April 1 of next year, but it can take months to find a sponsor, apply for the job and do through the entire petition process.
Can I still bring my spouse with me to the US if I am awarded an H1B visa?
The answer is yes, but there is serious doubt about the future of the H4 visa which previously allowed spouses to work when they accompany you on your H1B visa. This means that the H1B worker will have to support their spouse and dependents exclusively, which may be a burden for some.
Are outsourcing IT companies still allowed to sponsor my H1B visa?
Outsourcing companies are still permitted to sponsor H1B workers, but entry level computer programmers who were frequently contracted out by these companies will no longer be eligible for H1B visas under USCIS guidelines released this year.
Outsourcing companies have already reduced the number of H1B visa petitions dramatically, due to new program restrictions and outcry over supplying cheaper foreign labor.
What do I do if I am working in an H1B visa position and immigration announces a ‘site-visit’ to my place of work?
The site visits by Homeland Security and USCIS will become a more frequent part of the overall enforcement of H1B visa rules. If you receive notice of a site visit, be sure to have copies of your documentation ready that you used to submit your petition.
As an H1B visa sponsoring company, do I now have to pay my foreign workers a higher wage?
The short answer is that Level 1 wage position will most likely be denied H1B visas going forward, so sponsors should be prepared to pay the prevailing Level 2 wage or higher to H1B visa workers. This may be an increase depending on previous positions and wage levels.
There is legislation being considered that will increase the H1B visa ‘minimum wage’ level to $100,000 per year, which would then be least you could pay for any position in any location.
Do new visa and immigration restrictions apply to H1B visas?
There are a number of new immigration rules that have been imposed this year under the Trump administration. You should assume that those rules could be applied when the USCIS or the consulate in your home country are reviewing your petition. This could include increased scrutiny from some countries or regions, demands for you social media account names and information about your travel habits and family members.
Please contact us with any other questions about the H1B visa program and how to find a sponsor or a position.
- September 5th, 2017