Applying for H1B Cap? Avoid these Pitfalls

If you are applying for H1B in April this year, here are some important lessons from 2017 to keep in mind. The level of scrutiny increased significantly in 2017, resulting in a lot of RFEs and subsequent denials. We expect the situation to be the same this year, if not worse. Here are some items to watch out for: 

Master's Quota

If you are applying under Master's quota, make sure that your schoolqualifies as an accredited and non-profit institution. Just because others got approved from the same school under Master's quota doesn't mean anything; it was simply an oversight by the USCIS officer. You could be denied now, or you could be denied anytime in the future while applying for H1B amendments/extensions, since the original H1 was based on a non-qualifying school. It is not worth the risk, you should stick to the regular quota.

Level 1

If your employer is filing your LCA as Level 1, there is a good chance that you will get an RFE if you are working at a client location. The USCIS is contesting that a level 1 person needs high level of supervision, and is not qualified to work at a client location without direct supervision by the employer. Make sure your employer uses at least Level 2, even though the wage levels are higher.

Computer Systems Analyst

Filing your LCA as a Computer Systems Analyst was very common in the past, since the required H1B wages are lower than Computer Programmers or Software Developers. But nearly 100% of the applications filed as Computer Systems Analysts received an RFE in 2017. USCIS contends that anyone with some training can do this job, and as such, it is not a speciality occupation.

Degree

Historically, applying for IT related H1B with a degree in Mechanical/Civil/Business etc. was very common, and was not a major issue. Those days are gone. Your degree has to be directly related to and required for your job. Otherwise, you can expect RFEs and denials.

Multiple Applications

To increase their chances in the lottery, applicants make multiple H1B petetions.

What is acceptable:

  • You can apply for multiple H1Bs through unrelated companies, provided they all have legitimate positions.
  • Two related companies can also file for you, but they must each be prepared to establish that there was a legitimate, actual business need for filing both of the petitions. Else both applications will be denied.

What is NOT acceptable:

  • Multiple H1B petitions filed by different companies for the same position at the same end-client with the same beneficiary. USCIS can deny such cases based on evidence that the employers colluded to increase their odds in the lottery.

Dependents

If your dependents are currently outside the US, and plan to enter the US after your H1B approval - H4 can be applied after your H1 approval.

If your dependent is currently in the US on a dependent status based on your current F1, like F2, you are required to apply for their H4 status along with your H1 application. Otherwise, your dependent will become out of status the moment your H1 is approved (because you F1 status doesn't exist after that, meaning your dependent won't have a F2 status either).

How can we help?

We have an excellent track record of placing OPT candidates on projects and successfully obtaining H1B for all our employees on client projects. We have a 98% success rate on our H1B approvals over the last few years. If you are an OPT looking for training and placement, along with H1B and eventual Greencard processing, please contact us. Use the calendar at the bottom of this page to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced recruiters so that you can discuss your options.

Discuss your OPT/H1B questions with our experienced recruiters (We are looking only for candidates with IT degrees) 

 

(Use the calendar below to schedule a phone appointment)

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Is OPT in Jeopardy? Trump's Practical Training Reform Explained

There have been some troubling immigration updates last week in the rule making activity that is published by the Executive Office of the President. Of particular interest to a number of you would be a rule under consideration, entitled Practical Training Reform, that seeks to make changes to the programs allowing curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT) available to many F-1 and M-1 students.

Plans include limiting student work opportunities and terminating Obama’s STEM-OPT extension rule. The supposed goal of these policy changes is “… to improve protections of U.S. workers who may be negatively impacted by employment of non-immigrant students on F and M visas. The rule is a comprehensive reform of practical training options intended to reduce fraud and abuse.”

Note that these are just announcements; but they give you a clear indication of where this administration is headed. The proposed rule is expected to be published in October 2018.

How will this affect you?

  1. The type of work that you can do under OPT may be restricted; with the goal of opening up those jobs to US workers. This will definitely limit your earnings.
  2. OPT period may be reduced, which will not give you the opportunity for multiple attempts at H1B lottery
  3. They are also considering changes to H1B lottery, where preference would be given to  the “most skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.”  OPT students do not fall into either category. So this diminished your chances of getting picked in the new system.

What should you do?

You should focus on getting a job immediately, and applying for a H1B before these policies take effect. Don't be fooled by consultancies that will apply for your job without a project - USCIS has been cracking down on such entities in record numbers with site visits and office raids. Find a legit consultancy with a good immigration track record, that will be able to train and place you quickly.

(Use the calendar below to set up an appointment)  

Discuss you OPT Training, Placement and H1B options with our experienced recruiters

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Transfer your H1 and apply for GC immediately

If you are with an employer that is not applying for your GC, it is time for you to consider transferring your H1B, and applying for a GC immediately. Given the turbulent political climate and the constant tightening of immigration policies, it would be wise to get your GC process started as soon as possible. We are actively hiring experienced consultants that are looking for both H1B and GC sponsorship. Discuss your case with one of our managers so you can explore your options.

(Use the calendar at the bottom of this page to schedule an appointment with us)

What should you look for in a new employer before transferring?
1. Immigration
2. Financial Stability / Payment History / Employee Feedback
3. Strong Placement History
4. GC Processing

Immigration

Did you know that there are a number of H1 regulations that are almost always violated by most employers? Here are some examples:
* It is OUTRIGHT ILLEGAL to charge the employees for H1B fees. Yes, it is ILLEGAL. Do you want to jeopardize your future with an employer that charges you?
* Similarly situated employees should be paid equally. Meaning two people in the same metro filed at the same wage level cannot be paid differently. But it happens all the time, especially when you are working on percentage basis.
* Employers should have an established and documented wage policy that is implemented consistently across the board. But the pay rates for most consulting companies are all over the map, which is a clear violation. One Java developer is making $30/hr, while a different one is making $55/hr.
* While I-9 forms may look simple, most employers get tripped up on I-9 audits, which have become very common. Did your employer update your I-9 after your H1B was approved - most probably not!

These regulations have not been enforced by the USCIS in the past, but we all know that times have changed with Trump in the office. We are already seeing the impact on the H1B cap cases filed with Level 1 wages. You don't want to wait until the axe falls, and your employer is audited. Find an employer who has figured out how to work within the rule of law, while maintaing the flexibility and pay levels that you wish to earn.

GC Processing

GC is a long and arduous process. Find an employer willing to get your GC started right away. Ask them about the processes they have in place to overcome the usually restrictive GC requirements like prevailing wages, ability to pay, use of experience gained within the same organization etc. 

Financial Stability / Payment History / Employee Feedback

You guys are all smart enough to know that you should join a well-funded company, that has a history of paying their employees on time. Employers with 100+ consultants are usually well-funded to withstand any market downturns. But more importantly, talk to other consultants who work there. But there is one more aspect to this. When your employer files for your GC, they need to show the ability to pay (because GC is a future job). And not all employers are funded well enough.

Placement History

At the end of the day, you want to get placed and stay billable. Work with an employer that has a lot of varied clients, not just a handful of major clients. So if your project ends, they can always place you with one of their other clients. 

Where do we stand?

* We invest heavily in our immigration process to make it impeccable. We are able to meet all the regulations and requirements, while also maintaining the pay and flexibility that you desire. 
* We are financially very strong, and we have planned for market downturns and extended periods between projects. Our recruiters can tell you more.
* We have made more than 500 placements in the last few years, in over 30 states nationwide. If you are motivated, we can get you placed in a matter of weeks. We have a number of candidates that got placed within the first week.
* We will apply for your GC immediately after H1B approval. And we have 100% success rate with GCs. We got 4 GCs approved just this month.

Schedule a call with one of our experienced recruiters to discuss your H1B transfer.

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