Employers and individuals who are interested in obtaining H-1B visas through the upcoming lottery need to get started because the April 1 deadline is just two months away. The Immigration Innovation Act (also known as the I-Squared Act) proposed by senators Jeff Flake and Orrin Hatch would raise the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 85,000, but neither it nor any of the discussed changes to immigration have become law, so it will not affect the upcoming deadline and processing.
The H-1B visa is used to bring skilled immigrants into the United States for three years, after which it can be renewed for another three years. President Trump expressed skepticism toward the H-1B visa during the 2016 campaign, concerned that it allows companies to bring in workers for jobs that could be staffed by Americans. That doubt has yet to manifest itself in legislation, and it’s not a part of the immigration reform that he has talked in the last month.
Premium processing continues to be available for H-1B visas, which guarantees petitioners a 15-calendar day processing time. Last year, USCIS to suspended premium processing for all H-1Bs including lottery entrants. The agency will likely suspend premium processing again for H-1Bs that are subject to the lottery and the numerical cap, although it announced that it doesn’t anticipate suspending premium processing for other H1Bs, such as renewal petitions. Petitioners shouldn’t assume anything. Those interested in entering the H-1B lottery, pursuing extensions, or making changes to their petitions should do so as soon as possible.
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