BAL Senior Associate Matt Dillinger spoke about H-1B visas on Friday, March 31, at the Spring Conference of the Texas Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). We sat down with Matt to discuss his work on H-1Bs and more.  

You are known for creative strategies and helping clients deal with unusual H-1B situations. What are some issues you will highlight for colleagues at the Texas AILA chapter meeting?

We will discuss best practices for prepping for the 2024 cap season, new occupational codes used for H-1Bs, and how to handle employees in licensed professions. We will also discuss scenarios that require special considerations and creative legal arguments to successfully gain work authorization approvals.  

In what situation can people extend their H-1B visas beyond the six-year maximum?

There is a provision that allows people to extend their H-1B beyond the six-year maximum period if they have an approved immigrant petition but no green card is available. This is especially common for Indian and Chinese nationals for whom priority dates are significantly backlogged. But after the significant advancement of priority dates in 2020, many H-1B employees were no longer clearly eligible for these extensions, as they may have moved employers and thus not been able to file a green card application despite having been current for more than one year. Employees in this situation require a unique approach in order to continue to extend their status. 

Can you explain hiring “on receipt,” and should employers allow workers to start work on receipt?

Many employers believe that when they file a change of employer petition for an employee, they must wait for approval by USCIS. But technically that employee can start working for a new employer as soon as the petition is received by USCIS. In the past, both employers and employees have shied away from doing that because Request for Evidence and denial rates were much higher. However, we are now seeing fewer RFEs and denials, so employers are becoming more comfortable allowing employees to start work before receiving final approvals. The same goes for employees.  

How would employers handle I-9 requirements if they do hire on receipt?

Even experienced I-9 people might not know that there are special rules that make it possible to hire on receipt. Also, technically, employers don’t even need the formal USCIS receipt notice. You can submit I-9 paperwork based on the change of employer petition filing, proof of payment and proof of delivery.  

How would you describe your approach with clients?

I like things to be as clear and concise as possible. My approach is to provide a clear assessment of any risk I see, while also providing practical solutions or strategies, and minimizing the complexity of the situation, so the client feels confident moving forward. 

Why did you choose to practice immigration law?

I have always enjoyed learning languages and studying other cultures, so the international aspect of immigration law appealed to me. I find immigration law to be extremely rewarding. I feel good at the end of each day because I get to help my clients, help their employees and employees’ families and, in doing so, I believe I am making the United States a better place. 

Matthew Dillinger is a Senior Associate in the Austin office of BAL. His practice focuses on developing and implementing creative strategies to meet the needs of his clients. He has worked with clients from a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, information technology, fintech consulting, higher education and healthcare, Matt believes strongly in pro bono work and has represented pro bono clients in DACA, U visa and asylum cases. In addition, he has served on the Leadership Board of the National Immigrant Justice Center.