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San Jose Immigration Law Firm Explains Upcoming Changes to the H1-B Visa Process

If you are an employer that relies on recruiting foreign talent, you should be aware that this past December the U.S. Department of Homeland Security unveiled new rules for the H1-B visa process. These rules are not final and have just gone through a very brief 30-day comment period, but if approved they will make significant changes to how Silicon Valley firms are allowed to recruit and hire new talent from overseas. As detailed below, the proposed changes are both procedural—deadlines and timing—as well as substantive—changes regarding which applicants will be given visa priority.

If your company would benefit from immigration help regarding these changes or any other issue, the attorneys at SAC Attorneys LLP have experience in both immigration and human resources law and are positioned to provide you with immediate, qualified legal advice. Call SAC Attorneys LLP for your consultation today by calling (408) 436-0789.

How the New H1-B Rules Differ from Those Currently in Place

As you likely know, the H1-B visa program aims at allowing U.S. companies to temporarily hire foreign workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher to work in the “…theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge…”, fields such as tech, medicine, and science. On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order instructing DHS “suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.” In response to these instructions, DHS issues proposed rules on December 3, 2018.

The DHS’s proposed rules require employers first to register potential foreign hires online. The deadline for this registration has been moved up two weeks before the longstanding April 1, 2019 application deadline. This is a change, as employers are accustomed to a one-step process and have traditionally just filed an application. DHS’s changes are in response to complaints that the application process was time and money-intensive. Employers committed several thousand dollars to each applicant without necessarily knowing his or her application’s strength.

Under the proposed new rules, DHS will review applicants’ online submissions and allow up to 85,000 into a lottery; those chosen through the lottery will be given 60 days to submit the traditional, full H1-B application. In essence, the proposed online registration will work as an initial screen of applicants, and DHS has said that the goal of this initial screen is to save businesses the expense of submitting full applications if there is little or no chance that an applicant will be allowed to work in the U.S.

Importantly, DHS’s new rules will change the priority order that the agency uses to review applications, now favoring candidates with advanced degrees. DHS has said that the agency expects these changes to result in 16% more foreigners with master’s degrees or higher from a U.S. institution to be admitted in the U.S.

If you have prospective employees with advanced degrees from U.S. universities, these proposed new rules may improve your chances of helping these employees attain H1-B visas. Attaining expert immigration legal advice is the first step to succeeding in this complex process.

Attain the Immigration Legal Advice You Need Today

If you employ foreign talent, you need to understand these proposed changes to the H1-B visa process. Fierce competition for the best international talent means that you cannot afford to handle immigration and visa issues informally. You need experienced human resources and immigration legal advice. For an initial consultation, please call (408) 436-0789 or contact SAC Attorneys LLP through their website’s contact form. Based in San Jose, California, our firm is prepared to represent clients in Mountain View, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Fremont, Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley, and around the world.


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