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The filing period for cap-subject H-1B petitions opened Monday, with the number of petitions once again expected to exceed the number of H-1B visas available within five business days.
The Trump administration continues to take steps to reform the program. This year will be the first in which the order of the regular and advanced-degree lotteries will be reversed, under a new regulation that took effect April 1. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has launched a new H-1B Employer Data Hub that allows the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year, NAICS industry code, company name, city, state or ZIP code. The agency will offer premium processing in two phases. The first phase of premium processing will begin May 20 and cover only H-1B change-of-status petitions; the second phase of premium processing will cover all other cap-subject petitions and is expected to begin in June or later.
For first-time filers or those in need of a refresher, here is how the H-1B cap process works:
Cap-subject H-1B filings dropped 4.5 percent to 190,098 last year but still easily exceeded the cap. Despite the administration’s efforts to tighten access to the H-1B and related programs, volume is expected to be high again this year. USCIS has issued more H-1B denials and requests for evidence and expanded compliance site visits. The administration is also preparing to publish a proposed regulation to end work authorization eligibility for H-4 spouses of H-1B workers. USCIS has plans to introduce a mandatory online registration system for employers hoping to sponsor H-1B candidates under the annual cap next year. The administration initially aimed to implement the registration system this year but decided to postpone implementation in January.
BAL Analysis: The H-1B cap has been reached during the first week of filing in each of the past six years and there is every indication that this will happen again this year. BAL will report any significant H-1B developments, including information about the number of petitions, the completion of the lottery and the resumption of premium processing for cap-subject petitions.
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