USCIS released a press note earlier today confirming the standard April 1st start date for accepting petitions for the H1B Visa 2020 Season. There are some differences in the press release regarding premium processing from previous years and new announcements as part of this news release, we will summarize them below.
Summary of USCIS News on H1B Start Date for FY 2020, Premium Processing :
We have outlined the various topics in the press releases as sections for clarity. Below are the listed topics regarding H1B 2020 Season.
Start Date for FY 2020 Season
USCIS will accept H1B petitions starting from April 1st, 2019 for the fiscal year 2020, which is the start date of the H1B cap 2020 season. Employers planning to sponsor H1B visas for the upcoming H1B season can file H1B petitions with USCIS on April 1st. It is no different from the previous years, usually USCIS accepts petitions on April 1st or the first working day in April such as April 2nd or 3rd, depending on the first working day in April.
Reject H1B Petitions Filed before April 1st :
USCIS indicated that they will reject any H1B petitions that are filed before April 1st, that are filed for FY 2020 cap. Essentially, they want to make sure people do not flood applications before April 1st to their offices.
H1B Visa 2020 Guidance Check list :
They have also released a guidance checklist for H1B Employers to help with the filing of H1B petitions. They had similar ones in the past, it is just updated with few things for FY 2020. They emphasize to follow all the statutory and regulatory processes to avoid RFEs or delays in processing. This checklist would provide some guidance on the same. Check out Optional Checklist for I-129 H1B Filings by USCIS
H1B Visa 2020 Premium Processing Details
USCIS indicated that premium processing will be offered in two phases for fiscal year 2020. In the first phase, they will allow H1B premium processing for FY 2020 cap subject petitions that are filed with Change of Status (COS). In the second phase, they will allow premium processing for all other H1B 2020 cap subject petitions. This is very different from last couple of years, where USCIS was suspending all the premium processing for few months. So, it is a good thing.
How to file H1B Premium Processing for FY 2020 for Change of Status (COS) Petitions ?
USCIS is allowing premium processing service for H1B 2020 cap subject petitions that are filed as Change of Status (COS) Petitions, if they file it concurrently with their initial petition with USCIS. What it means is that, if you want to use premium processing, you need to submit Form I-907 ( premium processing request form) along with your original H1B petition that you file on April 1st with COS option. They need to select option B in Part 2 of I-129 form, which clearly tells that it is COS application. See below screenshot for the same.
No option to upgrade to Premium Processing for COS in middle , Rejections
USCIS clarified that, if an employer does NOT file premium processing along with the original H1B petition, then they cannot upgrade to premium processing in the middle, until they announce that premium processing is accepted for all such petitions. So, it is important to make this decision during filing itself. USCIS will reject all petitions that.
Start Date of Premium Processing 15 Day Clock for FY 2020 Petitions
USCIS says that the premium processing clock for the H1B FY 2020 COS petitions will start from May 20, 2019. They say no later than May 20, 2019…meaning that it may start before that as well. In the previous years, we have seen that many of the premium processing petitions getting decisions much before the USCIS indicated premium processing start date. Also, USCIS mentioned that they will notify everyone as an alert indicating the start of the premium processing, if it is early.
Premium Processing for Consular Processing or Non-COS H1B 2020 Petitions
Premium processing for general petitions filed under consular processing without a Change of status (COS) would very likely open around June 2019 or later. Employers cannot file premium processing for petitions that are filed under this consular processing category / non-COS during H1B season start on April 1st. These kind of petitions can be upgraded later once USCIS announces premium processing for such petitions. USCIS will issue a press release indicate the availability of premium processing for this category.
H1B Premium Processing for Transfers, Extensions available :
Premium Processing is fully available for all petitions that are no subject to cap, such as Transfers, Extensions. This is a good news for many as you do not have to wait, if you have a better offer or plan to extend your H1B.
Launch of H1B Data Hub – Employer Info
USCIS is launching a H1B Employer Data Hub which will be available on USCIS website on April 1st to check the petitioner’s details by fiscal year. Essentially as part of transparency, you can look at a H1B Sponsoring company by name, their location, NAICS Code, zip code, city, state and other details and look at the approval, denial rates for the same employers. This is a great initiative as much of the information is like a black box and we all were relying on LCA data, which is not the accurate info regarding H1B approvals.
H1B Cap Lottery Selection Process :
USCIS also clarified that part of the New H1B Registration Rule will be applicable for FY 2020 season, which is basically the change in lottery order. This lottery order change will increase options for H1B masters quota petitions. Check out full details of New H1B 2020 Lottery Details.
H1B Cap Total Count, Lottery Full Info
USCIS re-affirmed that the H1B cap for FY 2020 stating that regular cap would be 65,000 and the US Masters cap would be 20,000. Also, they will monitor and inform public once they get enough petitions to meet the cap, essentially the lottery accepted dates. Usually, petitions are accepted for first 5 days.
H1B 2020 Case Tracker : It is quite hard for applicants to know the general status of everyone to understand their situation. We have put together a tracker along with good graphs for analysis. It is completely anonymous as we do not capture your case number or any personal information. It is community contributed data, the more you add, the better for everyone, including You !
What do you think of the press release ?
Read USCIS press Release for full info