With only 85,000 visas available for the 172,000 H-1B petitions received by USCIS, those unlucky employers and their foreign national workers who were not selected in the lottery must seek alternative work authorization strategies. One alternative may be enrolling in E-Verify, the free, Internet-based program that enables employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new employees, in order to obtain a 17-month work permit. The additional 17 months is available to F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, and who have received an initial grant of post-completion OPT related to such a degree. But, the employer must also participate in E-Verify. The additional 17-month work authorization could provide some breathing room to pursue alternative strategies for longer-term employment; moreover, the extension gives U.S. employers another chance to recruit these highly desirable graduates through the H-1B process, as the extension is long enough to allow for another H-1B petition. Participation in E-Verify, however, includes a number of pros and cons, not the least of which are administrative burdens and additional obligations and potential liabilities. While obtaining additional work authorization for employees not selected in the H-1B lottery may be appealing, eligible employers should carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of E-Verify participation before signing up.
Posts Tagged ‘H-1B Petitions’
Five-Year Low for H-1B Visas Submitted During First Week of Filing Season; Employers Still Must Clear New HurdlesSunday, April 25th, 2010
On April 1st, employers began filing H-1B petitions for their employees who require a first-time H-1B visa for work that will commence on October 1, 2010. Perhaps a true barometer of America’s current economic well-being, only 19,100 petitions were filed for the coveted work visa during the first week of April compared to 63,000 during the same period in 2009. And, in 2008 and 2007, all H-1B visas – limited to 85,000 per fiscal year – were exhausted the first day they became available. Last year, the remaining 22,000 visas were available until late December.
Besides the economy, this year there are new hurdles that confront H-1B employers and their employees. First, employers will need additional lead time to prepare their petitions. The required labor condition attestation (LCA), now processed under the Department of Labor’s new iCert Portal System, takes at least seven days for an approval instead of just one. Second, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has altered its definition of what constitutes a valid employer-employee relationship as it relates to H-1B workers, imposing new rules on the types of activities in which H-1B workers can engage. Third, USCIS appears to be closely scrutinizing the authorship of credentials evaluations where education and work experience are combined. The agency has been denying petitions where the record does not clearly demonstrate that the individual providing the evaluation qualifies as an authorized signatory.