As with several other visas, H-1B visa approvals have declined under the Trump administration. According to data released by USCIS, approval ratings for the tech employment-based visa fell to 75% in the last three months of 2018 – a 12% decrease from the same time in 2017. According to Recode, the H-1B application process has also become more onerous and expensive: “Some 60 percent of applications required extra paperwork last quarter — double the rate it was two years earlier.”
Though the H-1B visa program is relatively small, many United States-based tech companies rely on these visas to employ specifically skilled immigrants in jobs that couldn’t otherwise be filled by the American workforce. And while USCIS approves most H-1B applications for major tech firms such as Apple and Facebook, smaller companies that require skilled tech labor could face administrative roadblocks when applying for the same visa.
Here are 12 pieces of advice to consider when applying for the H1-B visa:
- Make sure the H-1B visa petition and all supporting documents and filing fees are received during the visa lottery period. For 2019, that window of dates April 1st- April 5th. Petitions received before April 1st (even the Saturday before) or after April 5th will not be considered for the lottery.
- Make sure you mail the H1-B visa petition to the right USCIS address (a guide for determining which service center to file with can be found on USCIS’s website).
- Make sure you use the correct edition of the required forms – older editions will not be considered.
- Make sure the check for filing fees is dated and signed the correct amount. We suggest using separate checks for the different filing amounts as described here.
- Signatures are required and must be original.
- The I-129 employment start date must be no earlier or no later than October 1, 2019. The employment end date listed on the I-129 should match the employment end date on the certified Labor Condition Application (LCA).
- You should include documents to show that the H-1B beneficiary is maintaining valid status. (I-20, EAD).
- You must attach a duplicate copy of the petition to your application.
- You should include proof that the H-1B beneficiary completed all degree requirements if the diploma has not yet been awarded.
- To qualify for the Master’s Cap, the institution that awarded the advanced degree must meet certain criteria. A private, for-profit or unaccredited institution does not qualify.
- In general, multiple petitions cannot be filed for one person; however, there are exceptions.
- Do not travel internationally during Cap-Gap. In fact, any international travel while awaiting news of a change of status to H-1B is ill advised.