USCIS Reaches FY 2020 H-1B Regular Cap

USCIS has confirmed that they have received a sufficient number of petitions projected as needed to reach the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa “regular” or “Bachelor’s” cap for Fiscal Year 2020.

USCIS will next determine if they have also received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, the “Master’s” cap.

As a reminder, the agency recently implemented a new rule amending the regulations governing the H-1B cap. Under the new rule, USCIS runs petitions through the lottery process by first selecting all individuals through the regular cap of 65,000 visas and then selecting the projected number of petitions needed to reach the advanced degree exemption through the second lottery among only U.S. advanced degree holders who were not selected in the regular cap lottery. The agency has stated that this new order in which the lottery is run will likely increase the probability of selection for H-1B advanced degree beneficiaries.

Once both caps have been met, USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions (with the exception of fees for cases rejected as prohibited multiple filings).

USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse

Today, Monday April 3, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced multiple measures to “deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse,” including targeted site visits and a new avenue for H-1B visa holders and U.S. workers to report potential violations of the H-1B visa program.

Effective immediately, USCIS will also take a more targeted approach when making site visits to H-1B petitioners and the worksites of H-1B employees. USCIS has indicated that the targeted site visits will focus on:

  • Cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data;
  • H-1B-dependent employers (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers); and
  • H-1B workers who work offsite at another company or organization’s location.

USCIS will continue to conduct random, unannounced administrative site visits nationwide. However, USCIS has indicated that the addition of these targeted site visits will allow the Agency to focus resources where they believe fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur.

The Agency further clarified that the site visits are not meant to target nonimmigrant employees for any kind of criminal or administrative action, but rather to identify employers who are abusing the H-1B visa program.

USCIS has also established an email address which will allow individuals (including both American workers and H-1B workers who suspect they or others may be the victim of H-1B fraud or abuse) to submit tips, alleged violations and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse.

USCIS Updates H-1B Adjudication Guidance for Computer-Related Occupations

On Friday, March 31, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)  published a policy memorandum which updates guidance related to determining whether certain computer-related positions qualify as a specialty occupation for H-1B eligibility. This memo rescinds the Agency’s long-standing position that adjudicators should “generally consider the position of programmer to qualify as a specialty occupation,” as outlined in their December 22, 2000 “Guidance memo on H1B computer related positions.”

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