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H1B visa procedure 2020: What has changed?

Posted on March 4, 2020
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H1B visa procedure 2020

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced new H1B visa procedures in 2020. So, what is new? What has changed? To understand these aspects better, we will do a quick comparison between the H1B visa procedures for 2019 and 2020.

2020 H1B procedure:

The H1B procedure in 2020 has changed in the application process. Before the official registration for the H1B lottery began on March 1, the USCIS allowed employers to register their account numbers. They will need to provide basic information about the company and the employees that they wish to register. Under the new rules, the employee must first complete the registration of the company account number before entering the information about foreign employees who will be participating in the lottery. The registration can be made online through an account login system.

This pre-registration process it is hoped will make the H1B lottery a more manageable process. Once the pre-registration is complete, the USCIS will conduct the lottery and choose candidates whose applications can be processed. This will remain the same- 65,000 for the regular cap and 20,000 for the master’s cap.

 The employers of the candidates that were selected will then file their petition with the USCIS for processing the applications. They will have to pay the filing fees and provide the supporting documents within 90 days of the deadline issued by the USCIS.

There is also a premium processing facility that will expedite the process. The USCIS will process applications selected for the lottery in 15 calendar days. The fee structure has also changed this year. Employees are needed to pay only USD 10 in order to enter the lottery. Once the registration is selected, the employer will have to pay the following fees:

Base Filing Fee: USD 460

USCIS Anti-Fraud Fee: USD 500

ACWIA Education and Training Fee: USD 750 for employers with less than 25 employees and USD1500 for employers with greater than 25 employees

Public Law 114-113 Fee: USD 4,000

Premium Processing (optional): USD 1,440

Once the petition is approved the visa will be issued and the visa start date will be from October 1, 2020.

What has changed?

The new system is expected to speed up the H1B visa process by the USCIS because now they will not be required to review thousands of petitions.

The employer when making the registration can modify or delete the registration information to ensure only accurate information is submitted.

Experts feel the new system will simplify the process, reduce paperwork and will save the time and cost of the process.

2019 H1B procedure:

In the previous year and the years before that, they were very few significant changes in the H1B visa procedures unlike 2020.  There was no pre-registration procedure, instead, the applicant submits a Labor Certificate Application or LCA. The applicant then submitted the H1B documents and waited for the results of the draw. The application is then reviewed by the immigration department and a final decision is taken.  There was no premium processing facility or pre-registration features that were introduced now. Employers did not have the option of paying a minimum registration fee but had to pay an all-inclusive fee at the time of registration.

Comparison chart:

Here is a comparison of the H1B visa procedures between 2019 and 2020 to help you understand the changes:

H1B 2020

H1B 2019

Electronic submission by the applicant

LCA by applicant

Applicant waits for draw results

All applicants submit H1B documents

Selected applicants submit H1B documents

Applicants wait for the draw results

Review of documents by the immigration department

Review of documents by the immigration department

Premium processing

No premium processing

Immigration department takes a decision

Immigration department takes a decision

Order of H1B draw- 65,000 for the regular cap and 20,000 for the master’s cap.

Order of H1B draw- 65,000 for the regular cap and 20,000 for the master’s cap.

The comparison reveals that the H1B procedure for 2020 will expedite the process and the registration and premium processing facility will be helpful to US employers.

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