H-1B Season is Nearing! April 1, 2019 marks the beginning of the new H-1B petition filing season with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published a final rule amending H-1B regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions which will go into effect April 1, 2019. The rule reverses the order by which USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption, and introduces an electronic registration requirement for petitioners. However, the electronic registration requirement will be suspended for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season. As such, employers should continue to follow previously-established filing procedures and file all cap-subject H-1B petitions directly with USCIS as soon as the government begins accepting petitions on April 1, 2019. As in prior recent years, the filing season is likely to be brief (i.e., most likely, limited to the first week of April) and, if more petitions are received than there are available visas (65,000 regular H-1Bs and 20,000 allocated to foreign nationals with U.S. graduate degrees), visa numbers would be distributed via lottery. To maximize your chances to secure these much coveted visas, start petition planning and preparation early.  Consult your immigration counsel now to plan the upcoming H-1B petition submissions and related timelines.

Premium Processing service (15-day expedited processing) is now available for H-1B cap-subject petitions filed for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 cap season and which remain pending. Importantly, the previously implemented premium processing suspension remains in effect for all other H-1B petition categories to which the suspension originally applied.