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USCIS warns of H-1B visa petitions without clear employment start date in the upcoming filing period

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H-1B visa applications including words like ‘ASAP,’ ‘subject to approval’ will end up being rejected, says the immigration agency.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has warned H-1B petitioners to refrain from eluding a definite start date of employment in the upcoming H-1B cap filing period. In an hour-long teleconference held on March 6, the immigration agency shared some filing tips and offered to answer non-case specific questions from the participants.

As per the H-1B visa rules, the petitioners should file the application for the nonimmigrant work visa no more than six months prior to the start date of employment requested for the beneficiary. Elaborating on the necessity of mentioning a clear date the agency said: “Applications without a specific start date will be rejected. Words like ASAP or subject to approval will be rejected,” Firstpost reported.

Experts from USCIS’ Service Center Operations Directorate confirmed, “2 April, a Monday, is not a federal holiday and applications will be accepted on that day. We will accept applications for the first 5 business days.” The start date for Premium Processing Service has not been announced yet.

The visa cap for the Fiscal Year 2019 is same as previous years, which is 65,000 in Regular Cap category and 20,000 in Master’s Exemption category. Additionally, about 6,800 visas are issued outside the Regular Cap for US-Chile and US-Singapore free trade agreements. And then are H-1B Cap-Exempt organizations, which can file the nonimmigrant work visa for foreign workers.

The agency explains the exemption thus: “Sections 214(g)(5)(A) and (B) of the Act (Section 103 of AC21) exempt an alien from the H-1B cap if the alien is “employed (or has received an offer of employment) at “an institution of higher education, a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, a nonprofit research organization, or a governmental research organization (hereinafter a “qualifying institution”).”

Amid fears of increased rejections and RFEs (request for evidence), employers have had several questions including the wage levels and keyword definitions, for instance, of ‘specialty occupation.’ As Firstpost noted, “After almost 90 minutes long discussion, USCIS officials cleared that, they will subject H1B applications to strict standards that can stand the test of time over various cultures and perceptions of “high skilled”.”