United States set to open 2018 H-1B programme

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting petitions for H-1B visas for the 2018 fiscal year on Monday.

Congress has set a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas for the coming fiscal year. An advanced degree exemption from the H-1B cap is available for 20,000 further beneficiaries who have earned a US master’s degree or higher. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met.

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialised knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in a related field. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology.

The filing fee for H-1B visa petitions has increased to US$460, and petitioners no longer have 14 days to correct a dishonoured payment. If any fee payments are not honoured by the bank or financial institution, USCIS will reject the entire H-1B petition without the option for the petitioner to correct it.

What’s more, USCIS has also announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting 3rd April for up to six months. Premium processing is a service provided by the Department of Homeland Security that offers 15-day processing time. The process involves submitting a completed and signed USCIS form I-907 and paying $1,225 payment to Department of Homeland Security.

Article published 31st March 2017