How Businesses Are Navigating Recent Changes in the H1B Visa Program

Each year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) makes it possible for foreign workers to enter the country and work legally in the United States through the H1B visa program. The goal is to bring in skill sets that are missing in local communities, supplementing the American workforce by addressing skill shortages.

However, while the program seems simple on the surface, it is anything but. Plus, new changes increase the complexity, making the H1B visa program harder for companies to navigate.

Understanding how recent changes can impact your business is essential, especially since the penalties for a misstep can be severe. With that in mind, here is an overview of the 2019 changes in the H1B visa program and how to navigate them successfully.

The Impact of “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order

In April 2018, the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order altered the issuing of H1B visas, putting an emphasis on skilled foreign workers in key fields or the highest-paid beneficiaries. This is increasing the number of H1B application denials as well as the number of Requests for Evidence being issued.

As a result of the denials and informational requests, companies looking to use the H1B visa program to hire foreign workers are spending significantly more time to secure the talent they need. Projects are delayed, and some businesses are even incurring contract penalties as they struggle to fill vacant roles.

Companies using the H1B program need to be aware that they may need to provide additional information to support their request. This could allow them to prepare in advance, accelerating the process should a Request for Evidence come in. However, knowing that denials are also more likely, it is similarly wise to seek out American workers who can meet your needs whenever possible.

Changes to Premium Processing of H1B Petitions

Last August, officials announced they were expanding the suspension of premium processing for H1B petitions. Going forward, H1B petitions filed on behalf of employees who are either changing employers or moving to a different location with the same employer are not eligible for premium processing.

As a result, many companies are faced with an unexpected slowdown. However, it is possible that the suspension will only be in place during February 2019, though that could certainly change if officials deem it necessary to continue with the suspension for the long-term.

Companies using this approach need to be aware that delays are increasingly common. If that causes an issue, then using a different hiring option is likely to best option to avoid the situation.

Looking for help tapping into distinct talent pools to stay on top of your projects? The accounting, finance and technical recruiters of VincentBenjamin are here to help. Contact us today to get started.

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