Tag Archives: h-1b

H-1B Visas Hard for Foreigners to get in 2017 & 2018

On April 2, 2018, the annual H1B visa application season will open again with 65,000 standard visas and 20,000 US graduate degree only visas available.

The last few years after the Great Recession has seen the return of the H-1B visa lottery because of the massive (200,000+) visa petition applications received in the first few days following the April open date. This has meant both that the demands from the US economy and largely the private sector in growth areas like technology and the sciences are not being met but also that otherwise fine applications are being declined or not considered because they were just not being picked.

Well 2017-18 has brought a new dynamic that could bring down much of the most comprehensive professional employment visa in US immigration. President Trump and his administration have sought to undermine lawful US Immigration from the moment they have taken office with disastrous results and strong rebukes from the US Judicial system.

Unfortunately much of the US Immigration system is based on agency and individual personnel discretion. Therefore things likes denying a petition based on technicalities or just because a officer believes a petition is not “legitimate” or in the US national interest in some way. This could also be because of something obscure about the employer, the role or the foreigner can also result in denials. Additionally by slowing down the approval process itself meaning that both the foreign candidate and the employer might have to abandon the petition because of personal life circumstances and/or urgent business need.

So all of the above is already turning many employers away from hiring as well as the additional scrutiny likely coming over the prevailing wage requirement. Now the USCIS has said they are going to suspend the premium processing program which cost employers/filers an additional $1,225 USD. This program guaranteed a response one way or another 15 days following the official receipt of the H-1B petition application.

Many employers relied on this to be able to make business plans knowing that while an approval doesn’t official take effect until October 1 of the year, it meant that through programs like F-1 Visa OPT, ability to work during pending petitions with changing employers with the H-1B portability provision, during the renewal process or just general planning knowing that staff would be working soon, allowed business to continue.

Foreigners also relied on this for life certainty and then things like planning housing, children’s schooling, dealing with affairs in their previous location and just general life issues.

With the combination of longer overall processing times, extra overall scrutiny on visa petitions with roles/employers/employees, harsher interpretations of prevailing wage, the lingering uncertainty over the attempted travel and muslim bans and now this suspension of premium processing, we can expect a far worse H-1B visa season for all.

Ultimately the losers are everyone because as we have talked about before, foreigners are net positive contributors to the US economy and disproportionately are founders of the most successful US companies today as well as recipients of US graduate and PhD degrees and overall STEM degrees.

A sad time for us all …

H-1B Visa Application Season 2014

Happy new year and the roulette wheel of H-1B visas is just around the corner again for the plethora of companies that sponsor these visas along with the hundreds of thousands of foreigners hoping for a chance to work in the US.

We don’t use the term roulette wheel to be cute or as a casual throw away line but in the sense of both how random the process is but also to emphasize how we are literally playing games with millions and billions of dollars of wealth gained and lost in the US through this game of luck system we have.

As a quick refresher on the H-1B visa there are 65,000 general visas issued each year and 20,000 additional visas issued under an Advanced Degree Exemption for foreigners who have obtained graduate degrees or higher from a US University. So that gives a total of 85,000 visas issued to professional foreigners who have to paid a typical professional wage. This is determined by  their career position and locality which is equivalent at minimum to the average salary paid to US worker in the same role an place and is know as a prevailing wage.

Why the above is a significant point to take note is multiple fold  as it affects society, families, foreigners, us companies, the economy and immigration simultaneously. Ultimately none of it is good for the US although  depending on who you listen to the H-1B visa might be the scourge of America. The sad reality is if you listen to rhetoric, ad hoc anecdotes and misinformation you could be convinced. If nothing else you should listen to the facts and decide for yourself;

  • Each month foreigners start more businesses than US born citizens
  • Foreigners earn 3x patents of US born citizens
  • Foreigners found more Silicon Valley companies than US born citizens
  • All PhD educated growth from US Universities in last 40 yrs is from foreign students
  • Immigrants as a whole pay more in taxes than receive in benefits and more ….

As it stands now US companies are restricted in hiring the best and brightest and talented foreigners are leaving the US in droves often with US degrees and founding companies and creating wealth and jobs elsewhere. The proposed US Immigration Reform 2013 passed by the Senate hopes to address this in many ways, however it has gone nowhere in the house and as it stands will have no affect on the H-1B visa season due to being on April 1, 2014.

If you are a foreigner or potential employer then we suggest you complete all your hiring and do your immigration paperwork now so you can send it to the USCIS (United States Custom & Immigration Service) to be received by FedEx on April 1. Last year there was an H-1B visa lottery for the first time since 2008 and likely this year will be even more competitive with the improving economy so your package needs to be in at earliest possible moment.

Good luck this season and we have pasted a summary of all the relevant fees and steps for Immigration part although they are always subject to change;

H1B Visa Fees 2014

To Apply for the Visa; (all USD)
1. USCIS Filing Fee with USCIS $325 – Form I-129 (Spouse optional H4 Fee is $300)
2. Fraud Detection Fee with USCIS $500

3. LCA Filing Fee with Department of Labor FREE – Form ETA 9035/9035e (a small win here…although am sure will change one day)
Also have to ensure prevailing wages are met as well in this part so you are paid the same or more as a US worker in same position)

4. Premium Filing Fee $1,225 (optional – Form I-901) – excessive designed to help process where your legal representative has access to case officer phone number and decisions are made fast in 15 days and can also aid spouse partner H4 visa process

5. Public Law 111-230 $2,000 – (dependent) to be submitted by a petitioner which employs 50 or more employees in the United States where more than 50 percent of its employees in the United States are in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status.

6. ACWIA Fee $750 or $1,500 – if your petition is successful this goes to a training fund for US workers and is $1,500 unless you have less than 25 full time employees. Some government, education and non-profit institutions are exempt from this fee

7. Consular Application Fee $131 (x2 for spouse)
8. Visa Issuance Fee $100 (x2 for spouse) (but varies by country so check the Visa Reciprocity Section of the USCIS