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All About the H1-B Work Visa Cap in 2018

In December 2017, the White House presented a proposal that allows spouses of H-1B visa holders to enter the United States and obtain work permits. The proposal calls for an amendment of the rules so the wives and husbands of H-1B visa holders will no longer be allowed to hold down jobs during their stay. 

The announcement was made by a Department of Homeland Security official who explained that the measure was part of the “Buy American, Hire American” initiative promoted by President Donald Trump, which ostensibly aims to increase job security among U.S. citizens. This proposal has also called attention to the highly political issue of non-immigrant work programs such as the H-1B visa, which is subject to an annual limit. 

Despite the anti-immigration rhetoric of the Trump administration, the H-1B visa program has not been significantly affected. The annual limit of visas for fiscal year 2019 stands at 65,000, plus an additional 20,000 for applicants who also hold a graduate-level degree from an accredited institution of higher learning based and accredited in the United States. 

The H-1B petition filing period starts in early April of 2018. Although many foreign skilled workers have been discouraged by White House measures, immigration law firms expect that the full cap of 85,000 H-1B petitions will be exhausted in the two weeks following the start of the filing period. In fact, the petitions received in 2017 exceeded the cap by such a great margin that immigration officials held a lottery process to give a chance to all applicants.

It should be noted that more than 6,000 H-1B visas will be reserved for skilled workers from Chile and Singapore. This should be of interest to employers who are looking to fulfill positions that require mastery of the Spanish or Mandarin languages.

The best strategy for prospective employers in San Diego who wish to hire H-1B workers is to retain the services of a San Diego immigration lawyer well in advance of the filing period. The H-1B filing process can be complicated for employers who expect to submit their first petition in 2018. 

One strategy that could be pursued by employers is to take advantage of the 20,000 cap reserved for graduates by identifying prospective workers who are currently in the United States pursuing their degree programs. These candidates have an advantage because they have already been deemed admissible for the F-1 visa, which means they may qualify for a conversion to H-1B status. 

Employers should also keep in mind that H-1B visas are not the only programs available to skilled foreign workers. For example, the Treaty NAFTA visa is a very reasonable option for hiring workers from Canada and Mexico, and the filing process is not as resource-intensive compared to the H-1B petitions.

If you are a business owner in San Diego, H1-B visas may currently be one of your main topics of concern. To learn more about the H1-B visa cap, or to schedule an appointment with knowledgeable immigration attorneys, reach out to KS Visa Law today at 858-874-0711.

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