As the annual April 1 filing date for H-1B visa petitions quickly approaches, we thought it might be helpful to provide a status report on the H-1B visa program, given the intense scrutiny it continues to receive from the Trump Administration in its quest to ensure that U.S. workers are not denied job opportunities that might otherwise go to a foreign worker.

The H-1B visa program is intended to help American companies deal with labor shortages in rapidly growing fields that demand specialized skills. H-1B visas are issued to foreign workers in “specialty occupations” that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, most commonly in computing, science, math, and engineering fields. H-1B visas traditionally are in high demand, and quotas for each year typically are filled shortly after the annual application period commences. 

Indeed, the H-1B quotas for the coming Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 are expected to be filled within the first week after the filing period opens on April 1, 2019. And while there are no changes to the filing process from last year, there are changes to the order in which petitions for all cap-subject beneficiaries versus petitions for advanced degree beneficiaries are selected in the H-1B lottery in an effort to increase the number of H-1B recipients with advanced degrees. 

In addition, employers that intend to file H-1B petitions this year should not be surprised if they receive a request for additional information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that administers the program. Such inquiries, formally known as requests for evidence (RFEs), have increased steadily during the Trump Administration. An RFE might ask for detailed information from an employer such as documented proof of a worker’s eligibility.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.