H1B Visa Updates: Summer 2018

As the H1B visa program continues to undergo administrative and enforcement changes, there are a few noteworthy developments half-way through 2018.  None of these updates are particularly good news for hopeful H1B visa workers but do reflect the reality of the current program and how it is being administered.

All Unselected Petitions from the Lottery Have Been Returned

As is the normal procedure, all petitions that were not selected in this year’s lottery for 85,000 visas, have now been returned to the sponsor.  So, if you are still unsure if your petition made it, you should contact your sponsor to see if they received the returned petition. If you have your petition number you can also check the status online.

You may wonder what your choices are now if you were not selected in this year’s lottery, and you still want to work in the US.  Here are your options:

  • Find a ‘cap-exempt’ position and sponsor in your specialty occupation and re-apply for the H1B visa.  There is no lottery for this type of position and it can be applied for at any time.
  • Ask your sponsor if they are willing to try to enter the lottery again next year, with a new petition.  In the meantime, you can try to augment your work experience or education in your home country.
  • Find a new position and sponsor for next year’s lottery if your current sponsor does not want to commit to next year.
  • Ask your sponsor if it possible to work for them remotely from your home country if it is the kind of job that can be done online.  This allows you to stay engaged with them during the year, and if you are successful in next year’s lottery you will already have a head start in learning the position and co-workers.  

Indians Continue to be Affected Most by H1B Visa Changes

Indians that are seeking H1B visas are usually working in the IT sector and have been have impacted the most as scrutiny of petitions and positions has increased.  A recent report by a Washington think tank found that overall rejections of H1B visas is at an all time high, and that there was a 42% increase in rejections for Indian applicants in 2017.

The breakdown of actual rejection percentage by quarter is as follows:

  • 2nd Quarter: 22.4% rejected
  • 3rd Quarter: 15.9% rejected
  • 4th Quarter: 42% rejected

The report said that they increase of rejections in the fourth quarter was likely due to the new Trump administration policies to restrict the H1B visa program.

Moreover, a whopping 72% of Indian H1B applicants were sent a Request for Evidence (RFE) to supplement the original petition.  Applicants from all other nationalities received an RFE 62% of the time. The RFE rate also increased dramatically in the fourth quarter of 2017.

As previously reported, the plan to revoke the H4 work visa for H1B visa spouses will primarily affect Indians, since they hold 90% of those work permissions.

Due to these statistics, the Indian government continues to lobby Washington, and two of their foreign ministers will meet with Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis in September.  Despite the high-level talks, it is unlikely to change the procedures for reviewing and approving H1B visas.

The good news is that 85,000 H1B visas were selected in the lottery, and presumably all of those will end up with positions in the US job market.  Please contact us if you have any questions about cap exempt positions or next year’s lottery.

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  • August 20th, 2018
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