Welcome to H-1B Cap Season! What Small Businesses Need to Know

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 01, 2019 3:48 PM

If you're a U.S.-based small business that relies on highly-skilled foreign workers, H-1B Cap Season is a lot like your Black Friday: filled with anticipation and anxiety, (metaphorically) storming the USCIS storefront, and hoping you get a good deal. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting H-1B petitions on April 1, and announced the start dates for premium processing of cap-subject H-1B petitions along with the launch of its new H-1B data hub.

And, if you've been paying attention to immigration law lately, you may have expected a new H-1B cap selection process. So, here's a roundup of recent H-1B visa legal news to get you and your small business ready for the 2020 H-1B Cap Season.

1. Skilled Worker H-1B Visas Maxed out -- Now What?

In recent years, employers have reached the H-1B cap incredibly early. So don't wait to file your petitions. (But beware -- you can't file them too early, either.) And there are some changes this year that you'll need to be aware of.

2. Will Trump's Immigration Orders Affect H-1B Visas?

That's the big question, as the current administration has not been shy about its immigration platform. The current cap remains at 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year, along with another 20,000 exemptions available for "beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education."

3. IT Advocacy Group Sues Over Short Duration H-1B Visas

While the total cap number hasn't changed in the past couple years, small tech companies contend that USCIS has been illegally shortening the duration of the visas. An H1-B is typically good for three to six years, but a recent lawsuit claims immigration officials have issued H1-Bs for just a matter of days, and in some cases after the visa period has expired.

4. Trump Administration Moves to End H-4 Visas for Immigrant Spouses

It's one thing to secure and H1-B for an employee -- but if he or she can't bring their spouse with them, it may be meaningless. Last month, the Trump administration announced it would end H-4 visas, which allow spouses and children of H-1B visa holders to live and work in the country until they are able to obtain green cards.

5. Pro Tip: Don't Threaten Employees With Deportation

If you are able to secure an H1-B visa for an employee, it's best not to force them to pay their own salary and then threaten them with deportation

If your small business needs help navigating the USCIS's H1-B Cap Season, talk to an experienced immigration attorney today.

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