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Getting Your H-1B Visa: Here’s What to Expect in 2020

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on January 21, 2020

Companies in Illinois that wish to sponsor foreign workers for H-1B visas must contend with several changes, including the e-registration process and increases in denials. The sponsoring employers will be required to register the workers for whom they would like to petition in the e-registration system in March. The USCIS will randomly select registrants from the pool, and the registrants that have been selected will be allowed to file H-1B visa petitions on behalf of the workers. If companies fail to register the workers, they will not be able to file petitions on their behalf in April when the application window opens. At the same time, approval rates have fallen and are expected to continue to do so.

The E-registration Process

E-registration is a new requirement for employers that wish to petition for H-1B visas on behalf of foreign workers. Employers will have to register H-1B workers in the USCIS system between March 1 and March 20. Registration will require employers to enter basic information about the worker and their companies. They will also have to pay a $10 fee. After the registration period closes, the USCIS will randomly select people who have been registered. Only the people who are selected will be able to have their prospective employers file H-1B visa petitions on their behalf during the year. The e-registration process is meant to reduce the need for employers to submit H-1B petitions for every worker they wish to hire. Instead, they will only have to complete the H-1B visa applications for the selected registrants.

Tightening H-1B Application Process

The Trump administration is trying to tamp down the number of H-1B visas that are issued as part of its drive to limit immigration. The denial rates at many tech companies have sharply risen over the past few years. For example, 12 companies that provide IT or professional services to other companies experienced rates of H-1B visa denials of more than 30% in 2019. In 2015, by contrast, the denial rates for the petitions filed by these companies ranged from 2% to 7%. 

Employers whose registrations are selected should anticipate their H-1B visa applications to be subjected to more reviews. The approval rate has noticeably decreased since Trump’s election in 2016, and employers and H-1B visa applicants should anticipate that it will continue to drop.